Although I’ve lived in Baltimore for 30 years and truly love being here, in my heart I am a New Yorker. It means I still can walk and talk faster than most of my friends. My sense of humor can be different. I know a good pickle, piece of cheesecake, slice of pizza, glass of tap water, and bagel when I see it. I also know what a real Kosher deli sandwich tastes like. This week, I was giving a workshop in New York and had the pleasure of traveling there with my son, who goes there for his job twice a month. He decided to take me to the Second Avenue Deli for lunch and, at his suggestion, I ordered the hot brisket sandwich on rye. The place was packed, the energy was fast and furious, and the New York accents were music to my ears. Now this may sound crazy to you, but it was the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten.
I actually couldn’t get over how good it was and I found myself slowing down to savor every bite. In that half hour of deli heaven, a few things occurred to me. That little restaurant was a microcosm of the rhythm and culture of New York and it brought back countless memories of my childhood and adolescence. I sunk into and really experienced the sounds, smells, tastes, and images, and I was home. I couldn’t stop grinning. Yes, much of it was the hot brisket, and I’m sure my son thought I was crazy, but as I ate that sandwich I realized the importance of simple pleasures and really being present in them and for them. Part of why the sandwich tasted so good was because I took the time to really taste it. And because I was sharing the experience-as well as a potato knish- with my wonderful son. I realized the importance of roots and identity, and feeling a sense of belonging. I realized how blessed I was to have good memories to reflect back on. And what a gift it was to make new ones with my son. I hope you all have many hot brisket moments, and you remember to savor them.
Please share some of your ‘hot brisket moments’ as a comment.