The author of American Sandwich, Becky Mercuri stated that sandwiches are part of the American culture; the same way pastas are part of the Italians’. Sandwiches are perfect for a country that is on the move at all times and that is what we have been ever since our Industrialization. Sandwiches are one of the few accepted meals nationwide and while there may be little variations in these sandwiches based on regional differences, some cities have been able to create and continuously replicate classic sandwiches deserving of a visit.
New York: Reuben
New York or Nebraska? The debate on the real origin of this collection of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese as well as Russian rye dressing is still on but, despite the debate on the origin, all parties agree that the Reuben properly announced itself at the Jewish delis of the Big Apple in the 20th century. No conventional deli for Reuben comes close to the city’s oldest traditional Katz’s Delicatessen, a red brick organisation in the amazingly hip Lower East Side. You get to take a number as soon as you enter, from one of the many employees who hand-carve about five thousand pounds of corned beef on a weekly basis. A tight Flatiron District luncheonette that receives visitors frequently from the likes of Bono, Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop has Reuben’s with turkey or corned beef; you can complement one with one of the New York fountain drinks like lime rickey or egg cream.
This sandwich is an amazing mix of crusty Cuban bread, pickles, Swiss cheese, ham and roast pork immersed in garlicky mojo marinade; flattened and toasted in a press. In 1900, the Cuban immigrants arrived Florida with migrant cigar workforces from the island. The bread is baked in-house at the Versailles Restaurant regardless of if you choose to eat with the Spanish-speaking residents that enjoy standing at the counter outside or you decide to eat in. Enriqueta’s Café has built a profitable business by luring the auto mechanics, gallery owners and others within the vicinity to its restaurants with its home-style dishes like arroz con pollo. In the Wynnewood area sits the frills-free, breakfast-lunch joint – the home to a flourishing art scene.
New Orleans: Muffuletta
At the very entrance of the Central Grocery, the olive aroma welcomes you. This shop is an old shop that claims to have been the creators of this sandwich in the 1900s. The Muffuletta is layered with chopped olive salad, Italian cold cuts, provolone and mozzarella and you only need to walk a couple of blocks to enjoy your muff in New Orleans Jackson Square. The Muffulettas are heated at Napoleon House several blocks up river in a classic 1979 French colonial town house, which was given to the French emperor to use as an exile residence. The ever presence of classic music is felt via the shaded courtyard in the establishment.
This classic was born at Pat’s King of Steaks at the corner of 9th and Passyunk in South Philly when cheese was creatively combined with steak sandwich. However, arch-rival Geno’s steak which is just across the street claims a superior cheesesteak which is a combination of thinly sliced grilled beef and melted cheese, cooked with bell peppers and onions. The main difference? Geno’s doesn’t chop its meat, Pat does; while Geno’s uses bright orange, Pat’s stand is white clapboard; they both have outdoor seating. Just down a couple of blocks, you will find Cosmi’s Deli, which keeps locals swooning over their gooey cheesesteaks. This Deli has been in operation since 1932 and has been run as a family business. Regulars don’t mind the absence of chairs; they enjoy standing outside, executing the “Philadelphia lean” to ensure they don’t splatter their clothes.