The Reuben – The Greatest Sandwich In All Creation!
Being both from New York and a Jew makes me quite fond of good deli food and sandwiches. This is a result of both upbringing and genetics obviously. New York City must have some kind of sliced meat/deli law that requires 50 of them to be packed in a 1 mile radius. You can’t spit in NYC and not hit a deli. Now this doesn’t have to be a Kosher deli. I’ve probably been served by more Greeks and Koreans than I have actual Jews when I was growing up. I mean no matter how you break it down Jews love a good deli and love a good deli sandwich even more. I mean what is a wedding, wake or Bris without a deli platter? In fact I’ve known people in my own family who have opted to skip special events and dinner parties based on the fact that their isn’t going to be a deli platter. I find it kind of funny, especially since there is always a Deli platter at every Bris I’ve ever attended.
Ah but my subject isn’t “Funny/Odd Things Jews Serve At Family Functions”. No, no, no we are here to praise that finest of sandwiches, loved the world over but especially by Jews from New York… The Reuben!
A Reuben is my most favorite sandwich EVER! Corned beef piled high and topped with swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing between 2 pieces of rye bread? Fuck, I’d slap the president if I was promised a Reuben afterwards. Say where do they happen to make the best Reubens in the world perchance? Why in New York City of course! Take your pick between Katz’s, Carnegie and Second Avenue delis. They all have the Reuben on the menu and I always end up taking some of it home because their Reuben’s are like a Death Star composed of meat, kraut and cheese. Sweet fuck, if I return to New York City anytime soon I will probably go to Carnegie Deli first before I bother to let anyone I’m friends with know that I’m back and that includes my father. I know I’ll get a severe and grave stare from him when he sees me. The conversation will go something like this:
James: Hi Dad!
James Dad: Jamie! When did you get in?
James: Like 3 hours ago
James Dad: 3 hours? It’s only like 20 minutes to get to my office by subway. Why 3 hours?
James: Um… I went to Carnegie Deli first…
James Dad: [unamused, severe and grave stare] This is like that time [insert possibly traumatic event from my childhood that has nothing to do with what is going on] and this proves that you don’t care about your family!
James: [confused] Huh?
I’ve lived in Northwest Ohio for 15 years now and to date I’ve had some decent Rubens but only one truly great one. So stand up and pat yourself on the back Easy Street Cafe in Bowling Green, you just got the “Jew From New York” seal of approval for your Reuben. Now Easy Street has more than just a regular Reuben. They, my friends, have the 3D Reuben aka The Reuben of Death! What this is a triple-decker Reuben served like a club sandwich. This just might be the most perfect sandwich ever made not made in NYC. I mean, it is essentially a Reuben that can be used to club someone to death and that right there is frighteningly awesome.
See the problem out here in Northwest Ohio is, when you ask for Reuben, my experience is that they make the sandwich on Marble Rye. That loud thump you just heard was 200,000 Jews in Manhattan having strokes at their keyboards. You DO NOT make a Reuben with Marble Rye… EVER! A Reuben is a work of art dammit! It deserves the finest bread known to man and that bread my friends is hard Jewish Rye. Marble Rye? Seriously, what is wrong with you people in Ohio? Bad enough your pizza sucks but you have to ruin the Reuben as well? What the fuck have I ever done to any of you to be treated with such disrespect? Fuck… Marble Rye… just… just… FUCK!
I think the key to a Reuben lies in corned beef. You want that prefect cut of corned beef that hasn’t been overcooked less it be to rubbery. You also want it lean but not too lean. What does that mean exactly? No one but a Deli owner or butcher knows for sure. The corned beef has to be just right so you can bite into the meat cleanly and get the sour crunch of the kraut and and the tang of the cheese and Thousand Island dressing all at once. The kraut also can’t be too wet, in fact I am a firm believer in squeezing the kraut to wring the juice out first before putting it on the grill. Just because the kraut has been on the grill doesn’t mean it is dry enough to put on a sandwich. I mean who wants soggy toasted rye bread? Not this little black duck!
My love of the Reuben is eternal.True story time… When I was a lad at Boarding School, every now and then the kitchen staff would try to serve Reuben’s for lunch. These just might have been the WORST Reubens I’ve ever eaten. But you know what? I didn’t care because we wee getting Reubens! I may have been the only student at that school to be excited when Reubens showed up on the menu. I know the people at whatever table I was assigned to, dreaded it… well maybe not the other Jewish students, I mean there was only like 7 of us in the whole school if that!
I’ve conducted action figure trades at The Carnegie Deli while eating a Reuben. I’ve violated fasting on Yom Kippur so I could eat a Reuben. I bet you if Johnny Cash had been a Jew, he’d shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die and then he’d say “OY GEVALT! Someone get me a Reuben!”. Sadly Johnny would be somewhere in the deep South and would be unable to get a true, right and proper Reuben. Want to know why God rested on the 7th day after creating the Earth? Because he ordered a Reuben from Katz Deli! What? It’s Heaven mother fucker, you better believe The Almighty has Katz Deli to serve him up a 3 pound Reuben with Matzo Ball Soup! Who else is gonna make it for him? A Gentile?
So in summation… The Reuben is a sandwich so grand in its… well… Grandness, that it can only be the greatest thing made in the history of man… EVER! Great Wall of China? Can’t compare, I mean it isn’t made with corned beef! Leaning Tower Of Pisa? Don’t make me laugh, my ancestors built the Pyramids, we’d never settle for a crooked building! Besides if the Italian’s tried to make a Reuben, somehow tomato sauce would get involved. Stonehenge? You really want to compare a bunch of rocks to the greatest sandwich, if not the greatest thing… IN THE UNIVERSE? Fuck the Seven Wonders Of The World I say! There is but one Wonder of The Entire Universe! It is made of corned beef, Swiss cheese and kraut piled high on HARD JEWISH RYE!
All hail the Reuben!