Phil Kadner’s crusade against automatic cheese [“Say cheese? Not while I’m getting a hamburger, May 30″ ] is a victory for people with good taste. Everyone knows it’s almost always automatic artificial cheese — American cheese food product. In any case it glops up the flavor of good ground meat on a good bun with maybe some onion slices and whatever condiment you might prefer. (When I was a boy in northern Vermont everyone put just mustard on hamburgers and hot dogs. And salt and vinegar on the french fries.)

The cheese plague started — when? back in the ’70s? Certainly before that McDonalds sold hamburgers — you could ask for cheese as an addition. It’s like with the Philadelphia steak sandwich. Whenever we’d visit my father’s old neighborhood in Philadelphia we’d enjoy the traditional steak sandwich — good beef steak sliced paper thin in the steak shop on a special meat slicer for raw meat only — there’d be a separate slicer for the Italian cold cuts on the hoagies. The steak slices would be fried in olive oil on the griddle with thinly sliced onions, then piled on a long roll, with salt and pepper — no lettuce, no ketchup, no mayo, no condiments, and no cheese. Just steak, onions and roll. It was delicious.

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The sign in the steak shop would say “Steak Sandwich 85 cents” and then in small print below “add cheese 10 cents extra.” No one had the cheese added — no one. And if anyone ever did, it would be provolone. I went to high school and college in Philadelphia through the ’60s and it was the same — steak sandwiches with no cheese in sight and especially no processed cheese sauce.

Then I went away to graduate school in the ’70s and something terrible happened to the steak. Probably aping McDonald’s addition of processed cheese sauce to its hamburgers, the steak shops started squirting processed cheese sauce on the steaks.

It’s impossible to get American yahoos to comprehend the fine clean taste of food without processed cheese sauce on it. But just imagine some nice crisp beautifully fried chicken — with processed cheese sauce squirted all over it. Or a succulent perfectly grilled Delmonico steak — with processed cheese sauce squirted all over it. Or some spicy szechuan shrimp with peppers — with processed cheese sauce squirted all over it.

Oh, and another great taste from northern Vermont — apple pie with a slice of cheddar on it — and no processed cheese sauce.

Bill O’Toole, Arlington, Virginia

Valuable public service

The Chicago Sun-Times has provided a valuable public service to Chicago and Illinois with its 31 Bullets series of recommendations on how to reduce gun violence. Gun violence in Chicago has turned many neighborhoods into war zones, too many shootings, too many guns, too many victims. The 31 Bullets program outlines how this could be dramatically reduced. The Illinois Legislature and Chicago City Council should pay attention.

Peter Bensinger,
Former administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

Endless pardons

If the president can pardon himself for a federal offense, does that mean that a governor can pardon himself for breaking a state law? How about a mayor who disobeys a city ordinance? If I mistreat my wife and kids, can I excuse myself?

Dan McGuire, Bensenville

Travesty of justice

So, Dick Durbin thinks that Rod Blagojevich received too long a sentence? Why, because he’s a fellow pol? Everyone seems to conveniently forget the part of Blago’s conviction that involved his extortion of Children’s Memorial or the race track. The CEO of Children’s Hospital went to the FBI and they caught the ex-governor committing extortion. But all the political types talk about is his supposed “no victim” crimes.

A lawmaker and governor should be held to much higher standards than regular citizens but people such as Donald Trump and Durbin don’t seem to understand that. It’s sad that Blago can’t see his family, but that’s his fault, not that of our legal system. Most people serving time today have families and I’m certain that many of them also miss seeing their kids grow up. Some were convicted on minor drug crimes but have been serving sentences much longer than what Rod received. Who speaks for them?

With the daily attempt of the Trump administration to weaken our justice system. I would think that Dick Durbin would not be joining in this travesty.

Jim Agin, Oak Park