24 December 2002

lunch today sealed my fate as a non-vegetarian. try as i might, i find myself in these dining situations and i just can't say no to meat. meat. meat. its a drug and i know its bad for everyone involved, from me to the factory workers to the cows, but put a foot high ruben in front of me and what can i do? i melt. any discipline, health concern or political consciousness vanishes as the smell of corned beef, swiss cheese and sauerkraut wafts around me. sigh. i mean, i hardly ever eat the stuff--only for special occasions but, oh, its so bad! and so good!

cindy is in town and so today i took her to Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli, a quintessential Jewish (although not remotely kosher) deli just south of the Loop. its the kind of place where its nice that the people at the table next to you are smoking because it adds to the atmosphere. a huge diner, packed throughout most of the days with people from all walks of life. there are folks who eat there every day and people who make a special trip into the city just to go to manny's. it is truly a living legend and deserving of all the praise it gets.

entering the restaurant, cindy and i were instantly assailed with the overpowering aroma of grilled meat, fried starch, grease and onions. we got in line and made our way through the cafeteria-style self service counter, trying desperately to limit ourselves to a reasonable amount of food which is hard since every six inches you encounter a whole new set of lunch options that are just as appealing as what you've already seen (and ordered). we managed to stick to stuffed cabbage (the size of softball), a brick of baked noodles and cheese, a piece of cornbread, a foot high ruben, a potato pancake, two pickles and drinks (for cindy, a coke; for me, a chocolate phosphate). easily enough food to last the week. we got ourselves a table and dug in. everything was heavenly. the cabbage was so soft that you could cut it without a knife. the noodles perfectly merged kugel and mac&cheese. the ruben was an enormous mass of corned beef goodness, the pancakes fluffy and the pickles were crispy enough that you could actually convince yourself that a bite of one helped to cut the grease of the rest of the meal. and we did a fantastic job, eating all but 1/2 a ruben (breakfast tomorrow!).

i'm a little concerned, though, since i'm supposed to have dinner in chinatown in a few hours...its unclear how i'll be able to fit any more food into my stomach. but, my gawd, was it worth every bite.


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