If a sloppy mess of bean sprouts, roast pork or chicken, onions and celery in a thick soy gravy overflowing a hamburger bun sounds like your idea of a delicious sandwich, you may be from the North Shore!
These strange looking concoctions look a bit like green slime, but they sure do taste good!
Salty chop suey sandwiches have been sold in North Shore towns like Salem and Fall River since the early 1900s when Chinese immigrants began selling them from small restaurants and lunch carts. Their customers were local mill workers, students and parkgoers.
It is believed that the Chinese tailored their cuisine to match our Yankee tastes, mixing chopped meats and roasted vegetables in hearty brown gravy. Piling the mixture onto bread created a cheap, filling Asian fusion food – also referred to as "cheap Chinese."
Still sold at two takeout stands at the Salem Willows seaside park, the chop suey sandwich is not to be confused with the Fall River chow mein sandwich, which are free of bean sprouts and often meatless.
Another notable difference is that chow mein noodles are obviously required on the chow mein sandwich, but simply optional on the chop suey.
The chop suey sandwich is often associated with summer for the people of Salem who recall the lunch wagons rolling out to serve beachgoers and visitors to the casino, the pavilion, the carousel and Restaurant Row.
Should you find yourself visiting Salem Willows, be sure to try this classic Yankee treat!