Sandwiches get a bad rap.

“Oh, I can’t be bothered to cook, I’ll just make a sandwich.”

Sandwiches rarely find their way onto dinner menus of any kind and are often overlooked in favor of something more exotic. Their cousins: wraps, calzones, tacos, and even burgers, usually sound far more appealing than “just a sandwich,” not to mention anything else you could order at a restaurant or prepare yourself.

But can sandwiches be classy? Will they ever be considered a top-tier meal choice? What is class anyways?

You say wine, I say box of. You say caviar, I say onion dip. You say catered affair, I say take out and a movie. You say poetry, I say beat boxing. You say art gallery, I say subway graffiti. You say opera at the Met, I say underground rock show.

You say fancy restaurant, I say deli?

I’m not going to argue that any of the above are better or worse than the other, as I like each and every item mentioned, but folks often approach class with a certain fervor. Whether you refer to it as ‘hoighty-toighty’ or a ‘way of life’, class is in our everyday vocabulary, or at the least, even if we’re not talking about it, class surrounds us and influences our actions towards each other and our environment.

Rat Heaven.

As humans, we like to categorize, and we like to judge. Some of us may be better at hiding it than others, but it’s in our nature to rank objects, ideas, and values. From personal beliefs to lifestyle choices, from food to fashion, from sports to the arts – we rank these within a hierarchy of respect, likability, and preference; and we judge those (harshly or not) that don’t follow the same hierarchy we have created for ourselves.

I had jon and amy’s double dip, #67.

Zingerman’s Delicatessen sells sandwiches, and I would defend them as classy until the bitter end. Are they pricey? Yes – arguably overpriced. But are they pretentious? No.

Class is so much more than fancy frivolity or an expensive price tag next to a designer logo. Class is elegance: effective, superior, but most importantly – simple. True class is decidedly anti-frivolous. Class doesn’t hide behind a chic appearance and never pretends to be something it isn’t.

An individual with class need not state it. If someone does tell you they’re classy, it’s safe to assume they are not. Do let them pick up the check, however. Their ego and your wallet will both thank you.

Zingerman’s runs its business with the utmost of seriousness and sincerity but isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself. Their employees are professional, courteous, and helpful, but at the same time down-to-earth, funny, and both able and willing to engage you in a conversation about anything.

Check out the Queen, Wallace, and Grommit.

Corporations hire the services of ZingTrain, the program Zingerman’s has always used to train its employees. Their training for deli employees has been so effective that it developed into a separate business that trains the employees of major corporations around the world. That’s class.

The double dip.

Zingerman’s savvy practices and commitment to both quality and service have spawned a literal empire that remains local yet has worldwide renown, from its humble beginnings as a deli on 422 Detroit Street in 1982, to the 10+ businesses it currently owns and operates.

My kind of sandwich.

So – can sandwiches be classy? Absolutely. Will they ever be considered as a top-tier meal choice? Probably not. But hey, who said an underground rock show can’t be as entertaining, intellectually stimulating, and emotionally fulfilling as an opera at the Met?

Talent is talent, taste is taste, and class is whatever you want to make it.

Say what you will about the latter, but Zingerman’s has the former pair in spades.

My kind of brew.

Zingerman’s Delicatessen

422 Detroit Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
734-663-3354

Learn about Zingerman’s other businesses here.

Zingerman's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

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Drip, Drip, Drip

Forget oil, try on some sugar

Fat cats on the hill

Lying on their backs

Hedons drinking their fill


Gulp, Gulp, Gulp

Overweight, obtuse

One can, forty grams

Can you lie to an ignoramus?

Say it ain’t so syrupy friend


Big Sugar, Big Sugar

You led us all astray

A soda can a day

Makes fifteen pounds a year

That’s one fat pay out


Say it ain’t so (diabetes)

Say it ain’t so (heart disease)

Say it ain’t so (cancer)

Say it ain’t so

Big Sugar


As an unabashed Yankee living in Alabama, I had naturally been curious about ‘Chitlins’ for quite some time. What are they? Why does everyone suddenly cringe and make disgusting noises whenever they are mentioned? Even (many) southerners?

I’ve earned quite the reputation around the office over the years (I eat anything and everything and a lot of it), and I knew a Chitterling show down was inevitable.

Luckily for me, Chris Spencer, the Director of Community Development at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, had the hook-up.

I finally did my research, instantly regretted agreeing to eat them, and then put my game face on. For all you Yanks out there, this one is for you.

(You need to click on these photos to see the scrumptious Chitlin textures and awesome facial expressions in greater detail)

Yummy!

They smell bad.

Hot sauce to the rescue!

Maybe?

The cornbread helps.

Sorta.

Feeling queasy.

Another take.

Also queasy.

Last bite!

You can do it!

I did it!

Pass the good stuff!

Mission accomplished.

Special thanks to Chris Spencer for providing the Chitterlings and Robert Wood for providing the photos.

I love curry and order it out at many restaurants, but I’ve only made it a few times myself. When pineapples were on sale at the grocery I saw it as an excuse to jump start my curry cooking career and try something a little different. It turned out pretty well!

Curry Mixture

2 tbs red curry paste

1 tbs mirin (rice wine)

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 lbs chicken, cubed

Cook the curry paste and mirin over a low heat until it starts to foam like in the picture below.

Add the chopped garlic and onion and cook until they start to soften, then add the chicken and cook at a medium heat until about halfway done.

Coconut Milk Mixture

1 13.5 oz can coconut milk

1 tbs fish sauce

1 inch ginger root, peeled and diced

1/8 cup fresh lime juice (1 lime)

Add the above and stir until well mixed.

This process makes sure that the curry spices ‘activate’ – the curry wouldn’t be nearly as flavorful if cooked in the coconut milk right away.

Veggies

1 bunch of broccoli, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 chili pepper, chopped

12 oz mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped

1 can bamboo shoots

Continue cooking until the chicken is done. Remove from heat and serve over rice, garnishing with chopped cilantro and pineapple slices.

Pretty and delicious.

Note: While pineapple is my favorite fruit, I’ve never really liked it all that much in savory dishes (pineapple on pizza? please!), so I chose to use it as a garnish. You could very easily put it in the pot with the vegetables and you would have a much sweeter curry. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

My sister entered my apartment to pick up a baby gift that had been sitting by my door since before Oliver was born. We just celebrated his first birthday.

“About time we got this, right?” Jessica asked.

“Yeah, I should be charging you rent,” I said.

This was the first time my sister actually came inside my apartment since she moved across the river. She would sit in the car and honk when it was time for me to come out.

“It smells funny,” she would say. I didn’t smell anything, but I am a boy, so I didn’t protest.

“Daniel, what is this?” she asked.

“What?” I said.

“You’re a little obsessive compulsive aren’t you?”

“What are you talking about? You’re the one that brushes your teeth ten times a day.”

“But look at all these chopsticks!”

some chopsticks not shown

“So? I collect chopsticks? So what?”

“So you admit it.”

“Admit what?”

“That you’re OCD.”

“Because I have a chopstick collection?”

“Yeah, that’s right. You’re a collector. Collectors are obsessive compulsive.”

“You’re crazy.”

“Crazy right.”

“So you’re saying we’re both OCD then?”

“You admit it!”

“Do you?”

“No.”

“Me either.”

“But look at all these chopsticks!”

This conversation literally went on for about 15 minutes, but I will spare you the torment. My sister and I have revisited the subject multiple times since then, but have more or less agreed to disagree.

So – am I OCD? Are people who have collections, whether they be coins, trading cards, dolls, chopsticks, whatever; obsessive compulsive? Inquiring minds want to know. I leave it up to you and trust your input.

Unless you agree with my sister, in which case I have some chopsticks to introduce you to.

And a sword.

Yeah.

My lovely parents gave me a baking stone over the holidays, and making pizza is quickly becoming my new favorite hobby. My first masterpiece:

White Wine – Red Potato Pizza

That’s right, potato, not tomato (although there are those too).

Dough

1 cup warm water

0.5 oz packet of yeast

2 cups self-rising flour

1 tsp olive oil

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp chopped basil

Let the yeast dissolve in the warm water, then mix in the olive oil, sugar, salt, basil, and flour. Cover the mixture and let it rise for about 20 minutes, then place it in the fridge for another 30-60 minutes  to chill (keep it covered!)

When the dough is ready to roll (ie not too sticky), sprinkle some flour on your rolling surface and shape into a nice, thin pie (the dough will rise beautifully), and set aside.

Sauce


1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbs olive oil

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

1/2 cup white wine (I use a pinot grigio)

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

Heat up the olive oil in a small pan and cook the onions and garlic until they start to soften, then add the pepper and white wine. When most of the wine is cooked away, add the tomatoes. When most of the juices from the tomatoes are cooked away, remove from the heat and set aside.

We want a nice solid sauce, not too thick or chunky, but not runny either. The sauce in the picture above has the right consistency.

Potatos


The potatoes are like the pepperonis of this pizza, only ten times better. I’m beginning to think I could actually survive as a vegetarian, but naw, that’s silly.

2 small red potatoes (or 1 large), sliced

1 tbs olive oil

1 tsp chopped basil

1 tsp black pepper, ground

Mix and rub the potatoes in a small bowl with the olive oil, chopped basil, and black pepper. Pan fry until lightly browned and set aside.

Top it Off

You can use any combination of cheese and toppings you desire (which is half the fun), but this is what I decided on:

shredded cheese (I used a generic 6-cheese Italian variety pack because it was cheap and easy – but feel free to go all out with the fresh parm, mozzarella, et al)

shredded spinach

sliced jalapeno peppers

sliced mushrooms

diced tomatoes

and the potatoes

Distribute the sauce evenly along the dough and cover generously with cheese. Add a layer of spinach, then place the potatoes, mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes on top, then sprinkle with another healthy layer of cheese.

Slide that bad boy into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Done!


I’m officially ruined on 99% of all restaurant/delivery/take-out pizza. Not a horrible problem – when you have the solution!

Let me know what topping combinations you come up with!

And a special thanks to my pizzeria sous-chefs, Andrea and Linn!

P.S. You definitely want to chill the dough. This is what happens when you don’t chill your dough:

You get calzones! Sorta…

But hey, bonus, now I know how to make calzones, and you do too! Just fold the dough over the toppings! So easy! Impress your friends!

It’s good either way!

I love dogs. I love hot dogs. But I hate ‘hot dog’ dogs. I would like to eat them, however, very much so. Dachshunds. German? Ja. Also known as wiener dogs. Definitely more appropriate. Also German? Ja, naturlich.

Male, alpha. I puff out my chest and roll back my shoulders, head high, chin up, eyes straight.

Top dog. I walk from cart to cart with a high strut, through heat, extreme, unflinching.

Threat, alert! I growl and bare my canines, white, long, sharp. “Back!” I bark. “Back!”

The crowd startles; uncertain of their situation, the event unfolding not a common one. I: the sight before them; strange, imposing, frightening. Drool escapes my lips. I am mad. I am feral. I am hungry.

Barking does not cause the effect I require. I get down on all fours and lunge about. They label me a lunatic. Not far from the truth. Nevertheless, they disperse, afraid of contracting whatever fictional disease I possess that they have constructed for me in their minds.


I gallop, freely, to the cart.
I breathe, deeply, to much delight.
“Give!” I say.
“You must pay!”

With a grumble I fork it over. Dollar forty nine. In condiments, I pile on far more than that amount could buy. Goops and gobs escape from either end and overflow from the edges, creating a masterpiece on the hot pavement. Jackson Pollock would be proud. I am.

I lift the dog to my face, ketchup and mustard covering my arms, pants, and hands, when I pause, mouth half-open. I am encircled. The crowd did not disperse completely.

Do they wish to return to the line, but are too afraid of my presence?
Do they plan to attack, taking revenge upon my intrusion to their peaceful and (falsely) content lives?
Or are they merely watching, I, a spectacle for their amusement?

Whatever the case, I decide indecisiveness could quite possibly jeopardize my prize, and thus, my sanity. See, dogs are my life, ja?

I stuff the condiment covered dog into my mouth. All manners of juices squirt, spit, and dribble down my face, out into the air. I use both hands to force the final few centimeters of the bun down my gullet. Cries of horror and disgust ring loudly.

I belch, deafeningly. This, of all things – not barking, not growling, not drooling and raving mad on all fours, but this, this is too much. They disperse, all of them. One woman covers the ears of what could only be her son. I laugh, a whole fit of it.

The owner of the cart, old, fat, yet somehow jolly, now opposite of that, arms crossed, face twisted. Not happy, I conclude. He confirms by yelling obscenities and pushing his cart away. Takes all his dollies and goes home.

The square: empty, peaceful, serene, beautiful.

I: alone, prefer it.

I: messy, the same.

I: content, dog in belly.

Still, I wonder about the Dachshund, in texture, in taste. I lay down, in the middle, look up. I dream, eyes awake, each cloud a tasty morsel, stretched long and thin in my mind, colored various shades of brown. I lick my lips. Ja, naturlich.