Thursday, December 10, 2015

Some things never change

Today there was white bean soup on the menu at our local deli, the one in town that all long time residents patronize.  Never had it, but it sounded ok, sounded healthy, and it was steaming hot, full of the beans, in a reddish soup.  Looking at it as I opened the lid, there were these small exact squares of something on top.  I had a guess and after stirring knew it was ham.  Then I took a bite. It was hearty, no doubt, but there was something else going on.  I had to think about it, but got it in a minute.  There were small pieces of cut up hot dog in the soup.  Had I just been transported back to the 1950's into Mrs. Bateman's cafeteria at Forest Hills Elementary?

"The Deli", sort of as in "The U" in college football, has not changed its menu in the almost 30 years that we have been here, not at all.  They have not changed any recipes either and favorites here like Penn Dutch potato salad, their cole slaw and macaroni salad, and their large shrimp salad with celery and a lemon juice based light mayonnaise dressing, are always the same, and it's all made in a small kitchen at the back of the store.  Coming from the parking lot, customers squeeze by the kitchen on the way in.  It is likely that nothing has changed since it opened, whenever that was, but by the taste of the bean soup it was in the 1950's.

Apart from having the look of a standard deli, there are fresh kaiser rolls every day, poppy seed being the best, exceptional store cooked rare roast beef which lead to two fisted New York style sandwiches, and most things one would want other than anything approaching a non-mayonnaise based salad.

The Deli has a German heritage.  When we first moved here an older man named Helmut was omnipresent. Since it all stays the same, there is Wiener Schnitzel with Gravy on Monday and Thursday, Bratwurst with Sauerkraut on Tuesday, Knockwurst and Kraut on Friday. Being a town with a significant Catholic population, Friday also has fried flounder fillets and homemade crab cakes.  It should be mentioned that Monday also has Potato-Bacon soup, but being after a weekend I have never felt up to that.  There are many other standards that may seem unlikely, like a French Fricadellen(look it up) on Wednesdays and a tad bit greasy Chicken Cordon Bleu on Thursdays which is highly popular with the high school students four blocks away, at least it once was.

As befits, there are four types of potato salad, the Penn Dutch which is egg, ham, and celery based, a mayo based American, a mustard based American, and of course German potato salad, a bit vinegary for my taste as it seems like the real thing.

The most important aspect of this long narrow space is that "everyone goes there" and it's easy to bump into people that one knows, once knew, or had some passing connection with.  The locksmith who is incompetent goes there, the painter who can't paint does as well, while the competent electrician frequently shows up.  Attorneys stand in line with every home repair guy in the area.  It's a community place that could not be duplicated anywhere else as its eccentricities are too unique and that's fine.  Don't change.

Oh, there is rice pudding, bread pudding, and German butter cake every day, as well as, believe it or not, a darn good fresh fruit salad with melon, grapes, pineapple, strawberry, and apple.  Lipitor must be acquired elsewhere.


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