Lunch by the Pound
New York is a deli city. I work in an office near Times Square where there are delis on every corner hawking eighteen dollar disposable cameras and five dollar brownies. They are nestled in between fast food joints and standby chain restaurants and small pizzerias doing big business. My lunch options are varied, but not always exciting. Enter the deli lunch bar.
If there is one thing any deli worth it's soup-sandwich combo has to offer is the long bin of warmed up dishes and iced down salads being offered to you, the hungry consumer, by the pound. The concept is both intimidating and exciting. It's like a big buffet, only the buffet is going to cost you a fixed rate depending on just how much food you actually eat. Now, as a well-fed Southern woman, I love a good buffet just as much as the next cowgirl. I like knowing that I can load my plate up with things that don't match at all, like potato salad and cheese sticks and pizza rolls and sweet and sour pork and then come back for seconds, even thirds of ill-matched choices. That is the beauty of the buffet after all, it is the perfect choice for Americans who want everything all at once. The frightening part is that, unlike a good sit-down buffet at the Sirloin Stockade
where your empty plates are removed as quickly as you re-fill new ones, the deli to-go buffet must be weighed...on a scale...in front of God and everybody, including the skinny woman who works behind the counter. As much as I like food, I don't like knowing how much I am about to consume in one sitting. This is what keeps me from overindulging at the deli buffet. As I am loading up my plastic carton I am ever so cautious about how much weight I am holding in my hand. I scoop up pasta salad slowly in little amounts, only a couple of bowties at a time, and circle the place a few times to make sure that I am not taking precious ounces for granted. Because I am willing to share with the internet, today's lunch weighed in at .77 lbs and consisted of pesto pasta salad, a single chicken wing, a garlic breadstick and some beets. And I would be lying if I didn't tell you, had that buffet been a sit-down affair at $9.99 per person, my lunch would have weighed a significatly larger amount, then again, so would I.
Which leads me to this conclusion, perhaps the deli to-go pay-by-the-pound lunch is the best thing that ever happened to a desk-sentenced office gal who is a sucker for a good buffet.