New Yorker in Adelaide

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Reuben

The craving came out of nowhere. It was a completely average day; I was sitting in the library working on an assignment when my friend Mo and I got to talking about food, as usual. Feeling a bit homesick, we reminisced about the wonders of the New York Jewish deli. We waxed nostalgic on pickles (half sour, so that when you bite into it both the texture and taste remind you that it was once a humble cucumber) and sighed over delicate matzo balls so big that they nearly displace all that nutritious chicken broth in which they bathe. But by the time we got to deli sandwiches, or to more accurately describe them, piles of meat with a bit of bread on each end trying in vain to contain their charge, we were salivating.

We settled on the Reuben as the best of the best. As any New Yorker worth her stripes can tell you, the Reuben is a complex wonder of a sandwich. It consists of rye bread (preferably marble, but dark will do) embracing a stack of corned beef, draped in sauerkraut, swiss cheese and russian dressing. It should be accompanied by a small bowl of dressing for dipping, as well as a good pickle or two and some potato salad or coleslaw.

Now that our bellies were rumbling for one thing only, there was nothing to do but eat Reubens. Sadly, there's no such thing as a Jewish deli in Adelaide. But we weren't about to let that stop our gustatory fixation. We had to have Ruebens, if that meant we had to make them ourselves. A quick trip to David Jones proved fruitful. We had them cut the delectable corned beef as thin as the slicer could go, and we snatched up the last six slices of jarlsberg cheese. A fresh loaf of dark rye, a tub each of potato salad and coleslaw, and we were well on our way. Swinging by Woolworth's, we picked up sauerkraut, pickles, and bottle of Kraft Thousand Island dressing. By now we were getting some strange looks because of the audible rumbling of our stomachs (or was it the drool dripping down our faces?) so we sauntered home with our goodies and got to work.

My boyfriend Jayson, being the commendably adventuresome eater that he is (and I love him for it), was game to try his first Reuben. That raised the stakes a bit, because not only did we need to satisfy our own cravings, but we needed to initiate our Aussie into the world of the deli sandwich. We spread the bread thinly with butter and started toasting it in a pan, while slowly heating both the meat and kraut separately. The broiler was on, waiting for its task. When the bread was toasty, each slice was topped with either meat and kraut or cheese. Then into the broiler for a last bit of warming and cheese melting. Finally, a schmear of dressing, and we were ready to eat. It was a glorious moment.

I stacked my plate with sandwich, salads, and a pickle. I started with the pickle, and while there's no such thing as a bad pickle (unless it's sweet, which is a crime where I come from) this was no half sour, no kosher dill. It wasn't even a Vlassic, but it wasn't bad either. It was satisfying enough that I went for a couple more over the course of the meal.

The salads, also, weren't up to par. The coleslaw was too sweet for my taste, and the potato salad was too bland. But the sandwich, oh, the sandwich! Woody Allen would have been moved to tears (yes, I too die a little inside when I see mayo on white bread). It wasn't quite deli-style, because I could pick it up without losing half of it, and I could actually fit my mouth around it to take a bite. But I'll make a confession: when I go to delis, I end up taking out half the meat before I even try to eat my sandwich, so this version satisfied me just fine. As I dipped and nibbled, I glanced toward my Aussie to see his reaction. His plate was empty. When the cry went up for seconds, he didn't hesitate. I'll make a New Yorker out of him yet! Content with our success, I smiled and patted my purring belly. Another meal well done.

2 Comments:

  • If you like Reuben Sandwich's you should check out MyReubenSpace.com!

    By Blogger Reuben Sandwich, at 5:35 am  

  • Hi. I too am a New Yorker living in (North) Adelaide. Thanks for the blog on how to create a Reuben.. I miss the Carnegie Deli on Broadway. I walked by Bagelicious on O'Connell street this evening just to make sure it existed and tomorrow I plan to be first one in at 7am to have a sesame bagel with lox and cream cheese. Oy heaven! Have you found a thin crust pizza as good as Ray's in Adelaide?

    By Blogger Renato in Wonderland, at 8:29 pm  

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