Hot Pastrami

Sean and I are at Madison Diner and he has ordered a pastrami sandwich on rye. It is his first. He doesn’t like mustard and I told him he’d be stoned if he requested mayonnaise so he’s ordered it plain, just meat and bread. The sandwich arrives, easily 7 inches thick; layers upon layers of pink deli meat piled upon toasted slices of rye.

“Are they kidding?” he asks in horror. “I can’t eat this. What do they think I am?” It’s a question he’s asked several times a day since arriving in America, confronted with one massive restaurant serving after another.

“I know,” I reply, as I’ve done each time he’s gazed in shock at his plate. “We eat too much.”

Sean has learned how to eat sandwiches in America; he opens the bread and spoons out some of the filling onto his plate, which he then eats with a knife and fork before attempting to eat the rest of the sandwich as the cook intended. Today, he’s decided that while the pastrami is “lovely” it’s a bit dry so he’s reached for the ketchup and is busily slathering it on the hot pastrami before cutting it into manageable slices. Then, he reassembles the sandwich and picks it up. He eats one half, groans, and starts on the other. He pauses to remove some more of the filling.

“I can’t eat this,” he says. “Help me.” I pick up my fork and reach for the meat without ketchup. We chew silently and I sense Sean struggling. Finally, he yields, with a quarter of his sandwich left.

“I hate to waste food,” he says angrily. “Ye get two choices here, don’t ye? Waste perfectly good food or get fat.”

He’s forgotten doggy bags but in general, he’s right. And it’s a grim choice.

0 Replies to “Hot Pastrami”

  1. I ordered a Corned Beef sandwich from Carnegie deli on my first visit, and at the same time I ordered a piece of Cheese Cake. I was not warned.

    I became bolemic for 30 minutes afterwards. Also, I have no idea what I was thinking when I tried to combine corned beef and cheese cake.

    But I did get mustard 😉

  2. When my husband and I moved to the US from Montreal, Canada, we were shocked by the amount of food we got. So now, we order a salad and a main course and split it. Works great!

  3. I’ve no idea who you are as I stumbled upon your site just a few minutes ago. I haven’t even got around to looking at your profile yet. Anyhow I really love your blog. You writing is a joy to read and the stories you tell of the everyday are quite delightful.
    Thankyou!

  4. Thank you everyone for your comments – and welcome, Lance! Your comment was just the thing I needed to cheer me up this cold Monday morning. I’m sorry I haven’t posted much (or at all) in a week; we got back to Japan on Thursday and between jet lag, work and the usual post-holiday blues I’ve been getting myself resettled. More crankiness to come soon.

  5. American portions are pretty shocking, but Japan can deliver the smackdown as well — I’ve learned the hard way that any time a half-size version is listed on the menu, that’s the one I should order, because the full-size number will be massive!

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