This is a love letter to Katz’s Deli
The last time we ate at Katz’s Deli, Jill and I made the mistake of ordering just one pastrami on rye and splitting it.
Then I made the mistake of grabbing the pastrami pieces that had fallen out of her sandwich and onto our shared plate and popping them into my mouth. She wasn’t happy about that. “Akin yun eh!” she said, looking like a kid whose lollipop you had just swiped.
So for months, in Manila, we had serious discussions about a deli that was thousands of miles away.
“Next time, we get one whole sandwich each.”
“Yes. And just one plate of fries.”
“Yes! And no pickles.”
“Yes. Should we mix the pastrami with corned beef?”
Yesterday, we finally made it back to Katz’s Deli.
“Don’t be afraid of the sandwich, let the sandwich be afraid of you,” hollered Katz’s hilarious doorman to nervous-looking tourists. I can’t blame them, Katz’s Deli can be intimidating for first-timers. Some of the guys there still scare me.
We ordered one sandwich each – pastrami on rye with mayo for me, pastrami on rye with mayo for Jill, pastrami and corned beef on rye with mayo for her mom, pastrami on rye without mayo for Janna.
We attacked our sandwiches while staring at cute babies and marveling at how fast the guys at the next table inhaled their sandwiches.
No inhalation happened at our table – only an intense initial attack that petered out into little ladylike bites, a sure sign of fullness.
I only managed to eat half my sandwich plus two bites of the other half. Jill ate half her sandwich. Her mom ate half a bread slice and half the pastrami. Janna ate half her sandwich plus one bite of the other half.
And that is why I spent the rest of the day walking around with four sandwich halves in my backpack.
“Tita Pam, your bag smells like pastrami!” Janna said, laughing behind me as we walked up the subway steps.
It was a twisted gift from the deli gods. “You missed our pastrami? Here, smell it all day. Smell it on your bag. Smell it on your things. Smell it on you. Walk around smelling like a deli sandwich.”
I’m having leftover pastrami for breakfast today.