/ Richard Kaufman / 7 am Tue, Jan 5 2016
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  • A Jew and his sandwich

    A Jew and his sandwich

    What did you think about on New Year’s day? I sat in my home in Washington, DC, and dreamed the dream of a middle-aged Jew.

    Not of wealth.

    Not of fame.

    Not of my wife and daughter or other assorted family members and friends.

    Not of travel to a foreign land.

    And not even of my grandmother’s chicken soup. As a person she was a monster, but boy she made good chicken soup.

    NO! I was dreaming of a pastrami sandwich.

    I was craving a pastrami sandwich.

    Every store was closed here, of course, being New Year’s Day, but it wouldn’t matter—there’s no pastrami worth a damn in this town.

    At that moment my body needed to be magically transported to New York City or Los Angeles, the only two places I’ve ever had a really a fabulous pastrami sandwich. (Maybe there’s one in Chicago, who knows?)

    In New York, I go to the 2nd Ave. Deli; in LA, I go to Art’s on Ventura Blvd. The 2nd Ave Deli has a long history, and plenty of tragedy (the original owner was robbed and shot to death bringing the day’s cash to the bank in 1996). Then the landlord got greedy and forced them out. His nephews reopened the restaurant on 33rd Street just west of Third Ave. They did a good job: tiled floor, pressed tin ceiling, “A” rating from the Health Department. And the aroma is what I want to smell in heaven when I die. Your tush hasn’t been in the chair for five seconds before Health Salad and sour pickles are on the table.

    Second Ave Deli

    Art’s is in Los Angeles (“where every sandwich is a work of Art” — Art being the late owner) has food of equal quality. Smells right, too. (I know that some folks prefer Jerry’s, but you can’t convince a Jew about his sandwich.)

    You should know that brisket, corned beef, and pastrami are all the exact same cut of beef, merely prepared differently. People who eat corned beef usually do so on rye bread with mustard. Some folks like a “Reuben,” which is the same thing but with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut on it. They should live and be well, but I wouldn’t let that thing near my mouth.

    Here’s what I was craving: a sandwich of beautiful moist warm pastrami, smothered in coleslaw and dripping with Russian dressing, between two pieces of fresh rye bread. And don’t order lean pastrami, just don’t bother. Eat something else.

    Silly, isn’t it? If you offered me $1,000 or a pastrami sandwich from Art’s or the 2nd Ave Deli, I would take the sandwich. You’d have to add sour pickles and potato salad.

    Art’s Deli is located at 12224 Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, California. Click here for the website (warning: the website is lousy but the food is good). And if you don’t believe me, read Trip Advisor.

    The 2nd Ave Deli is located on 33rd Street between Third and Lex in Manhattan. Click here for the website. Click here to read the menu: You might want to put on a bib first. Ditto for Trip Advisor!

    The 2nd Ave Deli’s website tantalizingly offers “Ordering Online (Coming Soon).” How’s that gonna work? I know! The first worthwhile use of a drone could deliver me a pastrami sandwich in about two hours. Can it be? I’d order the night before and the drone flies from New York City and lands the next day at noon and heaven hits my doorstep.
    Yeah, I know … I’m dreaming. Oy, but what a dream!

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