Saturday 12 September 2015

Deli sandwiches aren’t civil

Deli sandwiches aren’t civil. They’re not cut into triangles, you don’t nibble them. You hold it with both hands as its unburdened over the counter, smell through. Nothing through the wrapper unless you asked for cheese and sauerkraut or meatballs or brisket or peppers or pastrami and you asked for it warm, which I recommend. On Rye. Take extra napkins.

Deli sandwiches make wonderful cross sections full of falling-out cold cuts and I like it best when they’re wrapped in plastic (loud florists' plastic that snaps and crackles). Second best in brown paper bags that get greasy if you leave it for too long but it's best if you don't. They can take some good minutes to make and should also take enough time to eat because if you eat too quickly, you'll think you're too full to eat the other half. You could always share but I always forget to, preoccupied with being starving, which is advice I wish I had when, in New York, I spent $19,00 on one, which is to say something for the amount of meat in it, not that the city is expensive which we all know already. I ate the rest for a second lunch and even dinner the next day.

Deli counter people don’t seem to mind what you order, so for us non-regulars, at any rate, only half American standing gawp-eyed-open at the glass, the lesson is not to be afraid to ask for everything. Another lesson is not to ask whether something will 'go' with another thing. The deli people don’t seem ever to have considered this question. Bologna goes with everything. They also seem not to be a judgemental sort or, at least, keep theirs to their own. There's no telling what these people have seen and this makes deli counters one of the few places in the world where there are no limitations, no rights or wrongs. 

Deli sandwiches are a better bet than other sandwiches unless you happen to be in Salisbury, CT and then you should go to Chai Walla which even Laurie Colewin was going to back then. There I had the best artichoke heart open-face with melted cheddar which I keep saying I'll make at home but don't.

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