Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Carnegie Deli Sparks The Great Sandwich Debate

Those of you who have seen me either at meal time or in my pre-16-year-old days know that I enjoy eating quite a bit, and as a result, from time to time I have to face startling questions of a gustatory nature. Periodically, I even take up those issues right here on this blog, which is to say I've done it once. But make no mistake, the debate of cake vs. pie remains volatile. In any event, I bring this up to you because the Knicks' acquisition of Carmelo Anthony this week has prompted the Carnegie Deli to make a bold foray into the sports arena that has torn the very fabric of New York's sandwich community asunder.

And that, my friends, is the 'Carmelo Anthony'.

Yes, the Carnegie Deli knew there was a power vacuum in the sports-themed sandwich hierarchy in this city and the biggest trade to clog up our twitter feeds maybe ever provided just the opportunity for Carnegie Deli owner Sandy Levine to steal the throne. Indeed with this collection of corned beef, pastrami, salami, bacon, lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing on rye bread he makes a compelling argument as for why this sandwich should rule the roost, particularly since each ingredient was chosen for a specific reason, like a master tactician composing his cabinet of advisers. For instance Levine noted that the sandwich includes bacon because, "we want Carmelo to bring home the bacon to New York." In a quirky touch the inclusion of Russian dressing was an obvious jab at bold, and possibly crazy Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, though Prokhorov may have made a fairly bold statement this morning anyway.

Now, this is hardly the first time sandwiches have made their way into the sports world. Peppi's Old Tyme Sandwich Shop made waves several years ago in Pittsburgh when they introduced the Roethlis-burger, a hearty collection of sausage and hamburger topped with fried egg and American cheese. It sells for an appropriate seven dollars.

But while I keep up on my dietary news from other cities around the country -- some particularly worrisome news has sprouted up in Chicago recently -- New York is where I spend most of my time and therefore it is the place I'm primarily concerned about. This is why the moves by the Carnegie Deli strikes such a chord, but there is some awkward tomfoolery afoot that could only be caught by the true aficionados.

The Carnegie Deli has done this before. Enter the Mo-Licious.

Yes, after the Mets acquired rotund first baseman Mo Vaughn in 2002, the Carnegie Deli staked its claim to sports-themed sandwich superiority with a devastating combination of corned beef, pastrami, turkey and cheese piled so high on rye bread that it literally was as tall as Vaughn's head. The always weight-conscious slugger even noted at the sandwich's introduction, "To endorse this sandwich is not really the message I want to send to the club."

Don't worry, Mo. You backed up your dedication to fitness with that .784 OPS you compiled in your two seasons with the Amazins.

It is clear that this is not the first time the Carnegie Deli has attempted to use a major trade to boost sales with a remarkable new sandwich, and while I can't speak for which sandwich is the better of the two -- I never got the opportunity to try the first and have yet to taste the second -- I do hope for the sake of all of us that these sandwiches don't provide an ominous portent for Melo's tenure in New York. Granted, by the time Vaughn arrived he was a shell of himself suffering from numerous physical ailments. Anthony is 26 and has little in the way of injury concern.

But either way, the Carnegie Deli has given us some deep introspective thinking to do. What impact will these sandwiches have on the New York spectrum of edibility? The results are yet to be seen. However, if you can still breath after eating one of these, you'll have to decide which side you're on.

As Chris Berman will attest, it's serious business.

All I know is I'm looking to try it. Anyone interested in tagging along, please step to the front of the line.

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