Brisket SandwichAlthough 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.


12 thoughts on "What I Learned From a Hot Brisket Sandwich"

  1. Jennifer Thomas, LCSW says:

    What a wonderful post, Lisa! I’m glad for a slower news week and think savoring is so important for balancing the rest of what we do. Thank you for this deliciously written reminder! Now, “to find a New York-style deli,” thinks a vegetarian!

    1. lisaferentz says:

      Thanks for taking the time to respond, Jennifer. If you find a good vegetarian, New York deli, by all means let me know!

  2. beth says:

    I am so glad you enjoyed time with your son and I certainly appreciate writing about enjoying the moment and being in the present. Yet, reading how you enjoyed every bit of your brisket sandwich was difficult for me. As an ethical vegan, I am no longer disconnected from “meat” and the beautiful, innocent cow or chicken or pig who came before.

    When I eat my meals, I too savor the flavors. I also savor the fact that no animal had to suffer and die for me.

    Perhaps, from this “brisket” moment, you – and others – can make the connection and include other animals in your moral imagination and relish the simple pleasures of doing no harm.

    1. lisaferentz says:

      Beth, all points of view are welcome, and I appreciate yours. In truth, I eat a vegetarian diet most of the time. When I do eat meat, I only consume meat that is Kosher. From an ethical standpoint, Kosher meat means the animal is treated in the most humane ways possible, both in life and death.

    2. Liz says:

      Although you state you get the point of what Lisa is saying, you clearly do not understand the beauty of true mindfulness, which is partly acceptance of being true to yourself and your beliefs. I understand the freedom of speech in this country, but your views could be more useful shared elsewhere. I believe we also have the right to choose what we want to eat in this country as well.

  3. Judith Asner says:

    I shared this delicious moment with you and savored


    1. lisaferentz says:

      Judi, I am delighted that you let yourself savor the experience!

  4. Liz says:

    My brisket moment is ever time I am blessed with enjoying lunch on the couch on my back patio in this beautiful weather! Thanks Lisa

    1. lisaferentz says:

      I love your “brisket moment” and your ability to derive pleasure from such a simple but lovely experience!

  5. keri zwerner says:

    I know this is an older post – but I just stumbled upon it. I am also a mis-placed NYer and just reading your descriptions, I was able to sink into the atmosphere you described and could hear the accents – also music to my ears. It was like I could hear, see, smell and enjoy the moment as you described it – because it was all too familiar to me, even though I left NY 25 years ago.

    Thank you for sharing your sandwich with me!

    1. Lisa Ferentz says:

      So glad to know that you found some value in this previous post. Thanks for sharing your kind thoughts.

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