I got up at four a.m. to make my way back into the city of food. As soon as I arrived in the city, I went uptown to help little buggers with ADHD paint ceramics. After doing a physical restraint on my favorite hyperactive 7-year-old and listening to hours of what each kid ate for Thanksgiving (vomit), I found myself to be extremely hungry. The rain outside had added to my exhaustion, so the only cure I could think of was 2nd Avenue Deli. I love sitting at the counter here because there are usually a few other lone diners there on a similar mission. One time when I was there, Parker Posey sat to enjoy her meal at this counter, and I was appalled when a tourist decided to gawk at her presence for 5 minutes immediately behind her. Let the woman enjoy her pastrami in peace! She too, is one of the lone diners that I can look up to, yet I presume that she is more self-actualized than me.
I never quite liked deli food as a child, but that was probably because I was scared of pickles and french fries that had ungodly fringe and this reddish-brown tint on the outer layers of their spuds. 2nd Avenue Deli always amazes me because they are fast, consistent, and friendly. Anyone who says that a real NY deli has rude waitstaff has not been to the cream of the crop, 2nd Ave. I only wish I had been to the original 2nd Avenue Deli when I was younger instead of drowning amongst a sea of tourists at the infamous Carnegie Deli.
I plopped myself into a seat at the counter, and I got my usual matzo ball soup and half a turkey meatloaf sandwich. The matzo ball soup is perfect and not too salty with square noodles and carrots. Here, simplicity is the key and it wins my heart. The inside of the matzo ball gives off a yellowish glow that likens itself to the amount this matzo ball should be worth in gold. As I slurp the soup, I eat two of my favorite complimentary dishes here: health salad and gribenes. The health salad is comprised of green cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and onion lightly tossed in vinegar. It is more inviting and healthier than your typical cole-slaw because it is mayo-free. This way, you can really enjoy the texture of the vegetables and the vinegar makes them taste sweet and light. The gribenes on the other hand may just be the best thing that 2nd Avenue Deli has to offer. Gribenes are chicken skin that is deep fried and finished with caramelized onions from the chicken fat. It's really a heart attack on a plate, but I pop those babies in my mouth as fast as I can.
At this point, I always think I have eaten too much. My waitress today is young and genuine. She gently tapped me on the shoulder to check on my meal, and this raised her tip to 30% in my delusional state. She brings me my turkey meatloaf and it turns out I do have enough room even though the sandwich is still bigger than my mouth. 2nd Avenue Deli's turkey meatloaf is juicier and tastier than a turkey burger or normal beef meatloaf. I know turkey gets a bad rap for being dry sometimes, but if done right with carrots or something to keep the meat moist inside, the tasty bird can be your best friend on more occasions than Thanksgiving alone.
As I was biting through my sandwich, a crying two-year old sat down with her mom at the counter next to me. I was too into my meal to really notice and ignoring proved successful. Kids are great, but I won't let them ruin my meal. The meal was over with their signature chocolate soda, and I headed back downtown for a post lunch nap.