A beautiful little story about a really big sandwich

So I had this job interview thing back in the town I went to college in. It was the first time in years that I’d been back there.

College was not an amazing experience for me. It wasn’t a really bad experience either. I have some really fond memories of sitting in my dorm, with the white cinderblock walls covered in print-out photos I’d taken of flowers and boys and my friends, writing music and eating dining hall takeout. I didn’t have one of those epic college experiences that people seem to always be having, where I made the best friends I’ll ever make, got so drunk that hilarious things happened, found myself, discovered what inspired me most, and earned the right to forever reference all that as the “best time of my life.” Which I think is good, really. Because it would be sad to get the best time of my life out of my system so young.

In college, I was pretty sure I’d like whatever came next better. I couldn’t wait to be out in the world. I knew I’d like it. And I was right. There was only ever one thing that I missed about college:

Fat sandwiches.

(source)

I can’t get them out of my head. Actually, this is my second post about them. Because they are that amazing. They are the extreme sport version of the regular sandwich. I’m bad at analogies today. They are gross. They have everything you can imagine on them. I build my own– with cheesesteak, mozzarella sticks, french fries, lettuce, gyro, hot sauce, and white sauce. I am not ashamed. I am not exactly proud, either, because I think that makes me sound like I’m trying to kill myself.

I am not trying to kill myself. But I really appreciate a good fat sandwich.

And they don’t make them like that anywhere except New Brunswick, NJ. I feel like there should be a huge banner at the entrance to the city: “HOME OF THE FAMOUS FAT SANDWICH.” I feel like there should be an annual parade in their honor.

I feel like sometimes it’s hard to accurately portray my passionate love of delicious, unhealthy food. We’re talking intense love. We’re talking “Do not stand in my way. You will be destroyed.” There have been times when I thought I was going to get pizza, and then fate cruelly intervened, and it has been difficult for me to recover. I’m serious. I get upset.

I was wearing heels and a pencil skirt and a nice blouse. I had finished my interviews, and I was walking to my favorite little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, called Nuebies, home of the best interpretation of the Grease Trucks’ fat sandwiches (Nuebies makes the sandwiches with fresher ingredients, and the bread is a lot less likely to be stale).

It was kind of a long walk for my high heels, but I didn’t care. Inside Nuebies, I was suddenly pouring out my heart to the older Middle Eastern owner with the bad eye behind the sunglasses, and the one stocky Mexican guy working the grill.

“I graduated three years ago,” I was saying. “But I think about this place all the time. You guys make the best sandwiches ever. I live in New York City now, but it’s not the same. I mean, even in New York City, you can’t find one of these! I’m not kidding. You can’t. I’ve really missed this. A lot.”

The owner said, “How do you like the city?”

“Oh, I love it! So much energy.” I always say that when I don’t have enough time to think of a better description. I don’t like the word “energy.” “New York City is great.”

“I love it there,” he said. “I have a cousin who lives in Brooklyn.”

“Me too! I mean, I live in Brooklyn!”

“Oh yeah? Good for you!”

We bonded. The Mexican guy smiled in this really warm way– maybe he understood, maybe not. He handed me my sandwiches (I’d gotten two, because I had to make sure Bear could try one, too).

And then the owner leaned forward over the counter and he said really earnestly, “I wish you the best of everything. From the bottom of my heart.”

I was taken aback, touched.

I said, “I wish that for you too.” I looked at the other guy. “And you.” He smiled at me.

If sudden golden light could’ve burst from every surface of that tiny, run-down place, it would have. What I’m saying is, it was kind of a spiritual experience.

I left. I was grinning.

I ate an entire sandwich on the train. And let me tell you, those things are huge. It was incredible. It was otherworldly.

There is nothing like some truly delectable unhealthy food. I want to take a moment to celebrate it. To celebrate how it makes me feel. To enjoy being a self-conscious woman with a voice in her head that is going nonstop “Did you gain some weight? Look at those arms! You should be disgusted with yourself. No carbs for a year. Forever. I’m not kidding. Are you listening to me? Put that down! PUT IT DOWN! Did you not hear me JUST say no carbs?! You are pathetic. PATHETIC”, and yet who is still capable of relishing the sheer bliss of a fantastic fat sandwich. That is an achievement, I think. I’m going to go with that being an achievement.

After I finished the sandwich, I remembered that we were meeting people for dinner that night. In an hour.

Whatever. Totally worth it.

*  *  *

What’s your favorite unhealthy food, guys? Tell me!

Unroast: Today I love the way the backs of my hands look. The skin is sort of creamy there, and gentle-looking.

 

57 Comments »

Kate on November 10th 2011 in food

57 Responses to “A beautiful little story about a really big sandwich”

  1. joanne responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Salt and vinegar chips and chocolate chip cookies. Momofuku has chocolate cookies that have chips and pretzels in them – two of my loves in one delicious bite.

  2. Erin responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    I feel the same way about a really fantastic burrito, and the food at this tiny Indian restaurant that I came across in Bristol, Pennsylvania. You wouldn’t expect a tiny little colonial town like Bristol to have mouth-watering, pulse-quickening, knee-weakening Indian food, but it totally does.

  3. Michi responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    Oh man! I’m so excited. They had something just like that at the pizza place that was practically on campus at my school. Only it was called a fat chicken. And instead of cheesesteak it had chicken fingers in there. I know they had a fat cow, which might have been the other thing, but I never knew anyone to get it, so I dunno. I’m a vegetarian, so not my bag, but I did love to watch other people eat them. I’m surprised I never asked them to make me a sandwich with just mozzerella sticks and fries and all the other tasties, though. Oh, but one time they put fries and mozzerella sticks on a pizza for me. So good.

  4. Liz responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Chili cheese fries. Waffle fries, spicy fries, steak fries, cheddar cheese, fake neon cheese, you name it.

    That tater-tot casserole that goes by many names – you know the one!

    I could also eat mountains of pistachios, and have.

    The fattiest of fatty fat cheeses smeared thickly on incredible fresh bread. With butter. And foie gras on top.

    Just about anything and everything on those hole in the wall Mexican restaurants.

    Donuts. (chocolate must be included in this)

    My college thing was fried mozzarella sticks. (and college was definitely NOT the best time of my life, thank God!)

    Can you tell that I live overseas and am going through massive withdrawal?

  5. Kate responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    @Joanne
    Yes– and the crack pie (not actual crack, I’m upstanding!) is insanely good.

  6. LIT responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    cheesy, beefy, saucy, messy, made from lard Mexican enchiladas!!! YUM!

  7. Kate responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    @Erin
    I love that. I love it when little towns you wouldn’t expect incredible food from surprise you with it.

  8. Kate responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    @Michi
    Please try a vegetarian version! I would totally do the same sandwich without the meat. And with tomato and falafel, if they have that.

  9. Kate responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    @Liz
    Holy shit– the fatty cheese on the bread with the foie gras. I want that.

    This is really fun.

  10. Kate responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    @LIT
    Seriously, yum

  11. Kate G. responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    First, hell yeah to your story — I know just the feeling of satisfaction one feels upon chowing down on (and utterly enjoying) some junk food.

    My guilty faves? 1) Cheetos. Oh, Cheetos: they are disgusting and fake, but sometimes I need them. 2) Whopper Juniors. Also disgusting, but I used to eat them on the road trips I’d take in college. 3) Slightly more upscale is the Miss Kentucky’s BBQ Chicken Sandwich at Gott’s (in the Ferry Building). It’s a sandwich as big as my head, and the barbecue sauce is so sweet it’s almost criminal. That chicken, topped with jack cheese and so much slaw…

  12. Krystina responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    Mmmmm…Texas Roadhouse cheese fries, funnel cakes, ranch pizzas, dumplins, casseroles….

  13. Lori responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    This made me think of the restaurant that we had in my college town (which, I could never bring myself to eat at): http://www.areuhungry.co/ Check out the menu… ridiculous.

  14. antoinette jeanine responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    I try to limit myself to feats of ridiculous eating only when completely incapacitated with a hangover. At that point it becomes a medical excuse and I can eat whatever makes me feel less like popping the top off of my skull and scooping my brain out. Sometimes I eat ridiculous and indulgent things because they taste amazing and I’m having a good time, which I’m trying to teach myself is different from eating a pound of pasta because it’s there.

    I live in a college town, and there’s a place called Fat Sandwich on campus that makes exactly what you described. I think it originated in Philly and somehow offshot to the Midwest. That is reserved for the last hours of the night before the incapacitating hangover.

  15. San D responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Gelato in Rome. Food of the Gods.

  16. Abigail responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Lately,

    If I’m going savory – greasy onion rings

    If my sweet tooth is in high gear – chocolate cupcakes with white icing paired with vanilla ice cream. YUM!

    Love this post =)

  17. Christina McPants responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    Basically, massive amounts of cheese. I love any kind of pizza and will melt cheddar onto sandwich bread when I want a bad for me snack. And then have ice cream. So basically, dairy fat.

  18. Kate responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    @Christina
    I hear that. I’m crazy about cheese.

  19. Erin responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    I didn’t know fat sandwiches were a thing! I went to college in a tiny town that lacked these. I had my first one last year and it was otherworldly amazing. I had no idea you could do that to a sandwich. It’s probably my ultimate unhealthy food—though I love a lot of unhealthy foods. Brisket nachos rank up there, as well.

  20. Jess responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Chili cheese dogs at Nathans.

    Chili cheese fries. The cheese has to be fake.

    Jamaican beef patties.

    A huge, oozing calzone from my favorite pizza place in the Fordham area of the Bronx, oozing ricotta and stringy mozzarella, still so fresh.

    Biscuits and gravy.

    Macaroni and cheese from a diner. Anything from a diner, really. Diners are love.

    Things that arent neccesarily unhealthy but feel too decadent are fried calamari (I love grilled as well, but that crunch!) and right now I have this jar of olives stuffed with blue cheese in my refrigerator that are seriously exploding my mind lately.

  21. Kate responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    @Jess
    YES! You are great.
    And calzone! I’ve gotten kind of addicted recently. Bear, too. He can eat the inside out and it’s a perfect dinner.

  22. Courtney responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    I can’t love this post more. From your undying love of that sandwich to your exchange with the shop owner, this story is fantastic.

    I’m biased though, since I really love indulging in mind-bogglingly bad for me food. (And I must confess, I go through similar internal monologues of “what the hell are you putting in your body?!”.) I don’t know that I can really pick a favorite, as I love all manner of unhealthy food. One of the first that comes to mind is what my local diner calls “awesome fries” which are fries covered in cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon, dipped in ranch dressing.

  23. Kate responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    @Courtney
    Even though you’re biased, I’m going to totally take that compliment and feel really good about it

    :-)

  24. Sooz responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    currently drooling……

    & hungry…..

    a ruben sandwich sounds pretty darn tasty right about now….

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm………………….

  25. bethany actually responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    French fries! Double Stuf Oreos! Chick-Fil-A milkshakes! Anything with extra butter. :-)

  26. Tempest responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    Yesterday’s in Marmora, NJ – on the causeway to Ocean City…they have chocolate peanut butter mousse pie (with oreo cookie crust). They also have toasted (aka breaded/fried) ravioli.

    Homemade, fried dough, with a ton of powdered sugar.

    And…damn, I could probably write all day. I love food.

  27. Mandy responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    At the moment?
    Has to be the chocolate volcano cake at Don Pablo’s.
    It’s a small yummy warm moist chocolate cake with gooey fudge filling, topped with hot chocolate butter sauce and a scoop of really fine vanilla ice cream.
    I swear the thing is a work of art, a study in contrasts: sweet and salty, hot and cold, smooth, creamy and cakey at the same time. I don’t order it too often, because I like to keep it as a special treat. And if my husband shares it with me, it’s just the right amount..

  28. Mandy responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    Also, Krispy Kreme donuts, fresh out of the frier…

  29. Laurin responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    it sounds kinda tame compared to all that (wow!) but there’s this pizza chain in Australia called Crust (I think it’s Aussie? *shrugs* you guys might have it too, I dunno)..

    they have this vegie supreme pizza with amazingly yummy vegies like eggplant and mushroom and semidried tomatoes, and it comes with gooey melted bocconcini cheese and pesto aioli on top..

    it’s in my mind cos i had it last night for dinner and I also got them to put chorizo sausage to it.. best. pizza. ever. (plus I had it with some wine and sat out in the cool spring night).
    I totally had this transcendant experience with my pizza :D so your post rang so true with me today ;)

    (usually my favourite junk food would be cake lol)

  30. Lisa responded on 10 Nov 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    Seriously, your honesty is so awesome. I love your posts! Sometimes when I don’t know what I feel like reading in my subscription lists I always just end up on your blog and is the only thing I read. My favourite junk food is probably cereal. I know its not the typical junk food, but I think it counts if I eat half the box in one sitting. Sometimes the whole box.

  31. Mel Y responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 12:42 am #

    I’m amazed you haven’t gotten anyone else in your comments who has actually had a fat sandwich in NB, NJ.

    I’m an anomaly – I’m an Aussie, was living in New York for half a year, and my then boyfriend was just finishing up his last semester at Rutgers.
    My god, the fat sandwiches I ate. It was the first thing I ate in Jersey, and by god, I made sure it was the last thing I ate before I left the country. My favourite was always the Fat Darrell.

  32. Anna responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 2:08 am #

    *deep breath* Cheesecake, Boston creme pie, Pizza, Burgers, Fries (fries EVERYWHERE), Salt & Vingar chips,

  33. Anna responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 2:13 am #

    Whoops, last reply was submitted before I was done, so anyway: Cheesecake, Boston creme pie, Pizza, Burgers, Fries (fries EVERYWHERE), Salt & Vinegar chips, Ramen, Friend Chicken, 2x baked potatoes, Gingerbread, Brownies, Pocky (or any candy, really), Apple pie, Green Chili Tacos, Pasta, German Chocolate cake (I’m pretty sure at one point I ate enough of it to bleed coconut filling) – I was raised with Italian, German, and British grandparents, so I’ve more or less eaten it all and loved it all.

  34. sadie responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 4:51 am #

    I love this post so much! Huge grin on my face, and thinking of stacked pancakes the whole time for me, I am unapologetic about my love for big fluffy, covered in maple syrup pancakes. We really should celebrate the tasty food that makes us THAT happy.. Great post xo

  35. Lynn responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 8:19 am #

    Kate, I LOVE this post, I have gone through that EXACT thought process when enjoying something delicious that I *should* feel bad about, and I am endeavoring to slowly but surely rise above that. I am a foodie and a cook through and through, and I refuse to be made to feel bad for the things that make me happy anymore…I’m a work in progress :) Hmmmmm, what’s on my list? Really good thin crust pizza (I dip the crusts in blue cheese dressing) french fries, ice cream, gelato, biscuits (slathered with butter, honey, jam or gravy), Italian bread and real butter, any kind of crusty bread with any kind of yummy cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, reubens, Pancakes, waffles, brownies, cake with homemade frosting, real chocolate pudding with real whipped cream, chocolate mousse, cookies, pastries, Carolina style pulled prok sandwiches, good submarine sandwichs, and pasta pasta PASTA!!!!

  36. Jen responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Chicken nuggets. Fried chicken. Really greasy pizza. Pretty much any Chinese Buffet. And horror of horrors The Spicy McChicken Sandwich from McD’s.

    I love how you equated chowing down on that sandwich with an accomplishment. My husband is always amazed and tickled at my lack of inhibition when it comes to eating in public. I’ve watched the way other girls eat, and I decided long ago that I wasn’t ever going to be ashamed of what or how much I was eating. Food is to be enjoyed, and I eat nearly every meal like it’s my last. :)

  37. Donna responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 11:08 am #

    from reading this morning blog I suggested Chiplote to me co-workers and YEAH we’re going for lunch Big burritos here we come ,with a side of chips and salsa!!!!!

  38. Raven responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    My girlfriend and I used to work swing shift for a call center above the Owl and Thistle in downtown Seattle. The office above is where we met, but the job didn’t pay us very much and she had a toddler. On certain nights, we’d call down to the bar to order our own special concoction of the food they provided. No shepherd’s pie, no. We ordered the giant plate of hand-cut fries covered in chopped, crispy bacon, and smothered in melted cheddar cheese. We always asked for extra tartar, because at the Owl and Thistle, they made their tartar sauce with dill (I make it this way at home to this day).

    For $6 we had a large, greasy, fat and protein rich meal to share when there was a slump in calls. We only ever ordered it when it was just the two of us. Other times, if we had a co-worker with us, we’d call down to the $5.50 a plate Thai place on a different side of the same building. But alone in the office, late in the evening, we’d get our fingers and mouths greasy with that delectable food, and we relished every moment of it.

  39. Kate responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    @Raven
    I LOVE the way you told that story. And you made my mouth water.

  40. Kate responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    @Jen
    Yes. Chinese buffet…There is one my family always went to on special occasions when I was a kid (before everyone in my family was a diabetic and/or on a no carb diet). We LIVED for that place. It was so incredibly exciting, just anticipating it. And the best was when my dad was like “Let’s go to Superstar,” just out of the blue. And we just went. I know every single dish they offer.
    Which is kind of amazing, because I can’t remember even one formula from my bio class in college. And I spent a lot of time memorizing those things.

  41. Val responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    PEANUT BUTTER CUPS. Huge weakness, cannot be left alone with them, could eat the whole bag and then lick my fingers. They’re just… I bought two bags on clearance of leftover Halloween candy and put them in my husband’s desk drawer, thinking how surprised he’ll be when he finds 4 pounds of peanut butter cups in the file. (He likes them, but isn’t crazy for them like I am. So far he hasn’t found them.)

  42. Deb responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Fried clams with the bellies. No contest. All my daughter (you know who!) wanted for her 16th birthday (roadtrip!!). Woodmans of Essex.

  43. Ashley responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    My fav unhealthy food is fast food, and chocolate. Ugh how about a brownie earthquake from Dairy Queen? Hey it has dairy, so it’s not all bad, right? Haha

  44. Kate responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    @Deb
    Nice. And good birthday gift. I used to ask for a pastrami sandwich and pizza for every birthday. You made me remember that!

  45. Kate responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    @Ashley
    I get like that…”I had some salad on the side of my bacon cheeseburger…that’s healthy!”

  46. San D responded on 11 Nov 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    hmmm…you got a lot of posts of this topic. Very telling on our relationship with food. I bet you would get a lot of posts on another similar topic: shoes. I think women have a lot of guilty pleasures, that ultimately work like “safe sex”….just sayin’

  47. Sarah responded on 12 Nov 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    sometimes you gotta just sit down with a pint of ben and jerry’s phish food. at least they make it in a froyo version so when you eat the whole thing, all four servings, you can tell yourself “hey, at least it was the low-fat version…?”

  48. craftosaurus responded on 12 Nov 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    Chocolate peanut butter ice cream. The kind where the base is chocolate, and there’s a ribbon of peanut butter running through it. None of that “peanut butter and chocolate ribbons running through vanilla ice cream” nonsense.

  49. Kate responded on 13 Nov 2011 at 12:01 am #

    @craftosaurus
    I just read this comment aloud and everyone I was with was like, “Yeah, exactly. What’s with the vanilla with peanut butter? So lame.”

  50. Fallen From Flavour responded on 14 Nov 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Chicken and Mushroom Pot Noodle is but one of my many guilty pleasures.

    I state my case for the right to eat unhealthy food here:

    http://fallenfromflavour.blogspot.com/2011/10/actually-im-fan-of-late-colonel.html

  51. CarbonGirl responded on 15 Nov 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    I love how these comments have become a list of bad food we each love! I love nachos loaded with everything–meat, cheese, sour cream, guac, lettuce, hot peppers! And milkshakes, I used to eat them all the time but my poor stomach can take them as much anymore.

  52. Isabel responded on 15 Nov 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Definitely salt and vinegar chips! Especially Boulder brand sea salt and malt vinegar chips!

  53. Adrienne responded on 16 Nov 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    Favorite unhealthy food? That would have to be animal crackers or vanilla wafers dipped in melted peanut butter and chocolate. I’ve been known to have it for dinner and I’m not ashamed of it!

  54. Kate responded on 17 Nov 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    @CarbonGirl
    I love that, too. I love reading what everyone likes. Gives me more good ideas for delicious junk food :-)

    And that’s sad about not being able to have milkshakes! They’re amazing!

  55. Joy Daniels (@AuthorJDaniels) responded on 29 Nov 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    My favorite sandwich is one I can’t have anymore because I was diagnosed as gluten-intolerant and allergic to cow’s milk. :-(

    But if you ever find yourself in Staten Island (I know it’s like another planet, but I used to work for the NYC Parks Dept and we went everywhere) there’s a great Italian deli: A & C Superette on Manor Road (#884)

    First go to the stand/rack where they have the fresh bread. Get a semolina roll – yes, you’re going to use the whole thing. Then go to the deli counter and have them put fresh mozzarella – if they have mozzarella “salad” with basil and sliced tomato even better! – sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted red peppers on it. I don’t mix milk and meat but I am sure you could find some amazing salami or other meat there, too.

    This baby will be huge but feel fee to eat it all in one sitting. I’ve done that more than once! If you do ever get one, please let me know – I can enjoy vicariously via pictures :-)

  56. Jenn responded on 19 May 2012 at 7:05 am #

    Everything.

  57. Eat the Damn Cake » bad at being a “natural” mother responded on 29 Apr 2013 at 9:27 am #

    [...] wonder if I think too much about food. Because, really, I’m always thinking about it. Like, it’s maybe psychotic, the way my days revolve around what I might get to eat next. The end [...]

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