Eulogy for a Deli

ecmjrFacebook. Like it or not in this day and age it is the Rome from which all roads exit and enter.

It was on Facebook a few weeks ago that a conversation came up regarding favorite restaurants we never go to. Naturally everyone talked about a great place in another city, state, country, that enchanted them forever.

I had my own, I told everyone about it, only to get the news from those in the know that my favorite deli in the world had closed years before. Stage Deli was the loser in a “Deli War” I knew nothing about.

For more information on that, click this headline from the New York Times,

A Closing Ends an Era, and a Deli War

The following is not about that article, as I speak of my own experience.  So a moment of silence, please. This is my Eulogy for a Deli.

The last time I was in NYC, a friend tried to impress me with her city’s New York bagel.
It was just  freaking bagel, same as anywhere.
So she tried to impress me with her city’s dirtwater hotdogs.
So she tried to impress me with an NYC pizza.
It was just a freaking pizza and I’d had better in Orlando, Chicago, Houston, even Tucson at a place called Mama’s Famous Pizza.
Exasperated, my friend tried to impress me with an aged New York strip steak.
The stench of “aged meat” in that little restaurant made me gag.
She gave up, was more than a little piqued with me, and the next day at lunch we went to Stage Deli in Times Square. Our waiter was an old thin slice of a man with a crust around his edge.

Me: “What’s the special?”
Waiter: “Pastrami. It’s always pastrami.”
Me: “Fine, I’ll have that.”

O! M! G!

If ever there was a meal to fight for, it’s the pastrami sandwiches at Stage deli in NYC!

Our waiter was amused with how much I enjoyed the sandwich.  I ordered another before I started on the second half.

Me (to friend): “Damn! Why didn’t you bring me here first?”
Waiter (having no idea what transpired ): “Yeah! Why didn’t you bring him here first?”
Her (agog at my reaction, blurted): “Here? It’s just a fuckin’ deli!”

It felt like the whole little place stopped.

Waiter: “I’ll get your sandwich, sir.”
Me: “Uh, I don’t share her opinion.  You see that, right?”
Waiter waved my concern away with an expression that clearly meant, ‘Don’t give it a second thought.’

Waiter (to my friend ): “Will you be having anything else?”
Her (sheepishly ): “uh… no.”
Waiter: “That’s wise.”

Once the waiter was gone she leaned across the table and whispered, “You’re from Texas! You’re wearing that stupid hat (my Rodeo Brim was on the seat next to me)!  And everybody acts like you’re born here! What fucking gives?”

I had no answer, and I was too occupied with eating the best pastrami sandwich I’d ever known.

During my stay, there were other wonderful delis with fantastic sandwiches, but you never forget your first.


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Glutton for punishment?

Look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt. Available from Crystal Lake Publishing and available in Print for $12.99 or eBook for $2.99.

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