You may not do it consciously, but nevertheless I am sure you do it. Whenever you eat certain foods you always have a place where that particular food is simply exceptional, and it is by that food that you lift up a standard. Subconsciously or unconsciously your palate recall is being activated and it reminds you what this similar food should taste like, look like, and smell like, and since the standard being often exceptional this bar of the palate is often very high.
I would not call myself a lunchmeat kinda person, I’ve even with bourgeoise undertone I have lifted up my nose to lunchmeat as if its the meal of steelworkers or mineworkers only, and I am neither. But every so often, I mean very rarely I get a hankering for a corned beef special. I mean who doesn’t want the coolness of meat, stacked up against the creaminess of cole slaw, and the fanciness of russian dressing, on rye bread. Just the mere description of it can make the most prudish of us salivate at least a little.
Needless to write first up is a corned beef special from Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Hatville Deli. Now I did have a standard by which I compared this sandwich to and my standard is Koch’s Deli also in Philadelphia. The Koch’s sandwich is a powerhouse sandwich, packed with premium corned beef and enough meat to make three separate sandwiches for three different days, it is what I like to call everything right with the world.
When I approached the Hatville Deli the picture of the corned beef special captivated me, and being the thorough foodie that I am I boldly asked the Sandwich Maker if the sandwich I would receive was going to look like the picture and taste as good as I was imagining. Being the self-respecting employee she was, she gleefully said, “yes it will”…so I ordered.
On my first bite my immediate thoughts was…wow this bread is soft, its freshly baked, its pretty darn good. Now if you are sandwich eater then you know the magic behind any good sandwich is the bread, when the bread is good we are off to the races. Next up was the meat; now my preference is that the meat should always be practically paper thin, and anything thicker than that is dancing on the line of blasphemy, and this meat was truly revering the meat cutting etiquette, third the meat should melt in your mouth and with a hint of saltiness that hits the back of tongue ever-so slightly, and it was with that that another box on the standard list was checked.
Now there is a small space when building the corned beef special that no matter how soft the bread, in spite of the thinness of the meat, the sandwich can all fall apart, and that is with the texture of the coleslaw and the ratio of the russian dressing. Is the coleslaw creamy? is it more than a accoutrement, but enough to standup next to the behemoth which is the corned beef special? Is the russian dressing not sloppily on the sandwich, but not so delicate that you miss out on at least one good lick of the fingers? Well Hatville Deli received another check box on the standards list. The coleslaw was creamy and tasty, and I got two good licks of my fingers in from the russian dressing.
Although she put my sandwich together faster than Superman in a race to fight Batman she nailed that balance better than I hoped for and for that I smiled in appreciation.
The Hatville Deli corned beef special sandwich was good, it wasn’t delicious, like Koch’s Deli, but it was aesthetically pleasing, my tastebuds were certainly susceptible to it, and in the event that while in the Reading Terminal and my hankering for a corned beef special should hit, I will not hesitate to have Hatville Deli be the cure for the corned beef special craving.