Years before I actually ever set foot on American soil I knew about pastrami sandwiches – from reading about them.
“Night had fallen over New York. Rain was pouring down, lashing at the windows. Nick Sharp, private eye, with his feet on his desk, took a bite from his pastrami sandwich and recapitulated what he knew about the case of the Blonde murdered the night before. Life is a bitch, he thought, and took another bite.”
You get the idea.
So I arrived in New York for my first visit (many, may years ago) with my little laundry list of things to do and places to see, with “have pastrami sandwich” quite high up on the list. On the second day I set off to go to the Carnegie Deli, like any good tourist. For some reason I arrived just at the time when the breakfast rush was over and the lunch crowd had not yet arrived and the place was quite empty. I placed my order for a pastrami sandwich and some pickles and mentioned en passant that this was not only my first time in New York but also the very first pastrami sandwich in my life. To this day I think that with the place being slow at the moment the waiter went the extra mile and thought: “We’ll show that tourist what we can do.” And show me they did. The sandwich was delicious, the pickles were to die for and the service was impeccable and extremely friendly.
Since then I am a fan of the pastrami sandwich. In Los Angeles that means – Canter’s. I’ve tried other places, but Canter’s always won hands down. Actually, any place does where I can stumble in at 2 o’clock in the morning, jet lagged from here to there and order a pickle and a coffee without the waitress batting an eyelid. Until now. Last weekend I found a new deli up to the standards I expect – Roll ‘n Rye in Culver City.
One could not even say that the sandwiches are better than at Canter’s – they are different. Somewhat spicier, with more “oomph.” Plus one has the choice between five different types of mustard. Although the pickles at Canter’s win – they have the New York taste. At least, if memory serves me.
“The sun was shining in Los Angeles. I took a bite from my pastrami sandwich and recapitulated that life can be good outside of New York too.”
You get the idea.