I was born and lived until I was 11 in an idyllic suburb north of Chicago called Glencoe. My friends and I could ride our bikes to the little town center and play in the park or get fries and shakes at Big Al’s.
Glencoe had a pretty substantial Jewish population that had migrated there from the city (my great grandparents immigrated to Chicago from Europe around 1900), so we had not one but two competing traditional New York-style delis within a block of each other. On the weekends it was a treat to go with our family to Harry’s or Ricky’s for corned beef or pastrami sandwiches or greasy Reubens for lunch.
Corned beef is a salt-cured beef and it’s not the leanest cut, so it’s not the healthiest of indulgences, but taking a bite of a corned beef sandwich or a hot Reuben melt transports me happily back to the slick red booths and bustling counters at the downtown delis of my childhood.
My favorite deli sandwich is also a quick and satisfying treat for dinner. If you like a sweeter taste, you can substitute coleslaw for the sauerkraut. By the way, rye bread, frequently used to make deli sandwiches, can be a good source of fiber, and rye has a number of other health and nutritional benefits. Next time you’re shopping for bread, consider rye as an alternative to the old standby of wheat, but check the label to be sure that the bread has at least 2 grams of fiber per slice.
What is your favorite thing to order in a traditional deli?