Week 38: Early Morning Observations and Smoked Meat Sammies

I rise at five thirty-seven, shower, wrap a tie around my neck, shovel down granola, and evacuate my apartment. Now, it is five fifty-five. They say New York is the city that never sleeps, but I would beg to differ on this Tuesday morning in September. The golden rays of dawn are starting to be a memory, replaced by the forbidding navy skies of autumn, where the streets are empty, save for the random ponderous, damned individuals like myself, bound for a lengthy early morning commute. 

While the streets are barren, the subways are fertile with tired souls. During the hour-long commute from Brooklyn, through Manhattan, and into the Bronx, I see a chapter of a sociology textbook unfold before my eyes. 

Boarding in Williamsburg, the train is already stuffed of deep-Brooklyn denizens, donned in hard hats, preparing for a day of back-breaking labor. I board alongside a scant group of yuppies who share the unholy hour's responsibilities.

Stopping at 1st and 3rd Ave, finely-tailored-suits and and designer-dresses enter the subway, as we approach the massive juncture of Union Square. Here, all hell breaks loose as the usual stampede of late-comers and goers attempt to force their way past the chaos.

I battle my way aboard a northbound 4 train. The drones of Midtown depart, as do the construction workers, maintenance crews, and cleaning specialists,  either venturing off to Queens or to their bottom-rung position in a soulless Midtown edifice. 

It is on the northbound 4 train a phenomenon occurs. The color of subway riders shift, from a lighter shade to a darker one, as Midtown becomes Harlem and Harlem becomes the Bronx. We emerge from the underbelly of the city. The sun peaks out from above Yankee Stadium, a morning welcome to the sleepy riders.

It is so very interesting, the humans who comprise five-boroughed land and the intersection of money and color and time on a morning subway commute.

Sandwich 38: Mile End Deli

Much like with an aged Scotch or a fine wine, the sandwich connoisseur builds up an affinity for detecting the subtle sophistication of artery-clogging smoked meat delicatessen sandwiches. There's a certain melt-in-your-mouth beauty of that which has been smoked to perfection, where the line between meat and fat becomes blurred and you swim in delectable ambiguity. 

Mile End Deli is such a destination for this pristine balance of smoke and meat. Easily compared to the much more renowned Katz's Deli - it is the details that separate these two flavor centers. Mile End's rye bread is more bitter, spongy, slightly more integrated into the sandwich where as Katz's is a bit more segregated, meat and bread in their own spheres of influence. Different ratios of mustard to meat, meat to bread, various seasonings, and far different mustard also separates these two as far different sandwich beasts.

While Katz's pairs their smoked meat with their world-famous pickles, you have to give credit to the Canadians at Mile End for importing their further heart-attack inducing poutine. For those of you who have never sampled poutine, it's sort of like melting a block of cheese over a mound of fries and then inundating them with thick, brown, chicken gravy. And by "sort of" I mean "exactly." You can also top these bad boys in their knockout smoked sandwich meats, and if you don't, you're kind of an ass.

With a classy interior and a generous, friendly, and well-educated staff (they turned me on to two more groovy sandwich locales), it would be a crime, during the Jewish high holidays, not to attend this sandwich and poutine munchfest.