I am a fairly well-traveled individual, but I must admit that at times I am fairly clueless. It surprises me that sometimes I can be completely clueless in a city that is a) English Speaking and b) North American. But I am and that is all there is to it. It's as if I have to do these 'new york' things (usually with food) and sometimes get them wrong with my indecisive nature. That is why I ended up with the bagel with lox AND grape jelly that one time.
The cluelessness I am referring to happened last week when I discovered that a corner deli near our Brooklyn home is famous for its sandwiches. I LOVE sandwiches. Like really really love them. So my excitement was at an all time high as I set out to Jesse's Deli for a cup of joe (look at my lingo ladies!) and a hero sandwich. Problem is? I don't really know what a hero is.
I go into the deli that is also a corner store - the common thing here right? And I promptly look for a menu behind the glass case of meat. There is none. Uh oh. Maybe they don't serve sandwiches anymore. I dully look around for another patron to see if someone else is ordering a sandwich. Nope.
I look at the Adam's family look-alike behind the cash register and ask if they serve sandwiches. She looks at me as if I am some sort of reject. Of course they do.
Oh right. Okay. Ummm, do you have a menu?
Now she talks to me like I am slow, but in a nice way at least. No. I just pick what I want.
What? No! I may love food but putting it together is not my strong point! I can only follow recipes! I have no ability to create a dish blending flavours together that will sing in your mouth! Same goes for sandwich construction. It's an art! An art of blending the right cheese with the right meat, adding some things like olives or capers to give it a certain 'je ne sais qua' with the right amount of mustard. And now she wants me to make up my own? With her watching? There was like a bazillion meats behind the counter.
Anything? Oh dear.
Now the girl is joined by her dad, who I suspect is Jesse, and her mother, and then what I can only assume to be the brother (family owned joint right?) all watching me in amusement. I smile at them all and say: meat. That's right. I just said 'meat' and that was it.
What sort of meat?
I glance at the case and rack my brain. Ham! and Salami!
Great. What kind of ham? What kind of salami?
Honey ham? Spicy salami?
Oh. Uh. What kind do you have?
Anything. Cheddar, muenster, provolone . .
What kind do you have? THIS IS WHERE A MENU WOULD BE HANDY!!
Roll, white, multi, bagel, hero . .
Hero? Hero? What's that? I've heard of the New York hero.
They all look at me in shock. Have I never had a New York Hero (insert thick Brooklyn accent here)?
No. I say and smile. I'm from Canada. They all nod and smile then coddle me. It's here that they all start helping build my hero sandwich so that it is the best tasting sandwich ever. It's been such an ordeal but finally the brother passes me over a wax-paper wrapped sandwich and I turn to leave the shop. Just in time for a new customer to say he wants a liverwurst hero with extra cheese. Oh god, I think, that sounds good. Ooooh, I am learning the fun things I can have! Pate hero? HELLO? Delicious!
Anyhoo, I head home with my hero in hand. Proud that I have accomplished yet another New York food fame thing. I get home, sip some coffee and open my sandwich.
I realize I have had a hero. It's a subway. But don't let Brooklyn-ites hear me say it. I am pretty sure the Subway chain is banned in this borough. I can see why. This hero far surpassed anything I've ever eaten there. Still. It was just a sub sandwich.
note: this is not a picture of my hero - but another Jesse sandwich. It will give you an idea of how much stuff they put on them!