I don’t think I’ve been this content in my life. Not happy, not excited — but content. You know: Like butter running through your veins is how I feel. I ate both a reuben and a BBQ chicken sandwich.
Well, OK, also this cookie and a black-cherry soda. Oh, man, this cookie. There were these squishy raisins, and it was so soft and the cinnamon was just like ughhhhhh. It was at this point when I ate the cookie, before the sandwiches came, my muscles started twitching and, to be completely honest, they haven’t stopped since. My thigh has been spazzing for 20 minutes.
So, anyway, I ate the sandwiches and, oh my God. I tackled the reuben with a tiger-like force, and this roast beef was swimming in my stomach — I mean seriously magical. It was like magma flowing in slow motion. I thought I was full, and then I saw the #85 and I knew I wasn’t done. I destroyed this thing. This chicken — the BBQ was dancing like a fucking madman all over my mouth — was just so tender and wow.
Plus, this black-cherry cola is literally the equivalent of God water. Yes. God water. So, basically, if you find yourself in a mind-warping, neck-snapping, hungry-hungry-hippo pot high, I highly (see the pun?) recommend Zingerman’s. My thigh is still twitching.
—DAILY ARTS WRITER
“Hi, please help me,” I desperately exclaimed, bracing my wobbling body between shelves of bread and vinegar and brightly colored walls. “I called earlier to order, and I don’t know where to go or what I’m supposed to be doing right now.”
Because Zingerman’s was big — bigger than I had remembered — its dizzying number of aisles, rooms and sandwich options flooded my senses like the Blue Moons I downed an hour or so before.
Fortunately, however, help was immediately on its way: Within seconds, I was rescued by a perky employee who took my arm, walked me through the restaurant and told me how to buy my food. I was grateful for the hospitality and, after dousing her in bleary thank yous and apologies (“Please don’t judge me, I swear I’m not usually like this”) I stumbled outside and fell into a patio chair with my sandwich-packed paper bag.
Joy washed over me. It was finally time. I couldn’t remember what I ordered, but those details weren’t important: As I pulled away the paper wrapping, I knew I was holding a specimen of deli perfection. Puffy bread. Pale, melty cheese. Enough spicy honey mustard to cut through my sinuses and tequila-tinted breath. A thick, pillowy pile of turkey that spilled out in meaty folds all over the table.
“I’m going to eat all of this,” I announced to anyone who was listening.
The next few minutes were a messy blur of mustard, crumpled napkins and pure jubilation. I obliterated my meal in as few bites as possible, careful to not to miss any scraps of Challah or deli meat that might have fallen in the process. It didn’t matter that I had paid over $10 for a four-ingredient sandwich or that I was sitting outside in a frigid, metal chair — it was the best damn sandwich I had tasted, and if the restaurant hadn’t closed a few minutes into my outdoor feast, I probably would’ve sloshed back inside to order another.
I walk into Zingerman’s on a sunny Wednesday afternoon without a hint of mind alteration. Decaf coffee, a healthy but sensibly sized breakfast — I’ve even had a good night’s sleep. In other words, I could not feel more average.
It’s been a few years since I’ve paid the famed delicatessen a visit, but my memory of the market/restaurant’s layout is more or less accurate. Cheeses to the left, breads and the like at 4 o’clock and a sneaky passage enshrined in coffees, oils, vinegars and other exotic delicacies.
Because I’m able to trust my unchanged perception, it’s relatively easy to avoid other customers and place an order with the friendly and ever-helpful staff manning the sandwich station. I order a chicken, bacon and ranch, and my friend orders a Detroit-style BBQ chicken sandwich. I immediately regret my decision, but because I’m not brazen or drunk enough to ask for a change, I take my seat and accept my fate.
The sandwich is tasty — a little dry and a little expensive, but I’m definitely glad I decided to come here. The bacon is peppery and crispy, and combined with the chicken breast and creamy ranch dressing, I wolf down a half before I realize what I’ve done. But since I’m not under the influence of any hunger-inducing substances, I decide that the other wedge would make a tasty snack later, and I get it wrapped to go (however, my friend receives baked beans cooked with bacon, and I happily volunteer to help finish them).
I leave Zingerman’s feeling pretty happy overall. True, it did cost about $30 for a lunch for two, but it’s rare to find such a carefully-crafted lunch with such quality ingredients. And, forgoing the morning joint/Jack Daniels, I’m ultimately happiest that I didn’t waste $30 on a meal I’d barely remember.