Over the hills and yonder a ways sits a quaint New York 24 hour joint called Rocky’s Deli. Standing room only is an overstatement, as standing in line, even when the place is not busy, can be somewhat difficult: you eat in the car. And if it is a Chicken Parmesan sandwich, you will most likely eat it in the car, instead of waiting to get to your destination, since such a delicacy is way too delicious to save for later. Once such a treasure is in your possession it is all one can do, especially if one is hungry, not to rip open the paper wrapping and stuff its contents into one’s mouth, completely abandoning all traces of etiquette.
I know what you’re thinking: really, Emily, how good could it possibly be? It is just a sandwich after all. I will tell you, as I sat there eating my Chicken Parmesan on a roll today I wondered how anyone could ever consider becoming a vegetarian after tasting something so succulent, so full of flavor, and so tantalizingly satisfying as that meaty sandwich dripping with melted cheese and tomato sauce. I salivate just thinking of it. My brother thinks even more highly of it. He dreams of it while he is away at school. He says that the ten dollar bill is his favorite tender, as it buys him his dream meal: A chicken parm on a wedge and a Snapple. He goes out at all hours of day or night to Rocky’s just to get this sandwich when the craving hits, because when it hits it hits hard. I had that craving today, and since I was in the area, I indulged. It’s a miracle, that sandwich is. It has such a splendid balance of flavor: Not too spicy, not too oily, not too cheesy, not too saucy. (I like that word, saucy) The chicken is breaded and lightly fried, covered in melted mozzarella cheese and drizzled with a fabulously seasoned tomato sauce. The whole thing is served on a roll of your choice. Before the guys at Rocky’s hand it over, they cut it in half so that when you open it up later, the cheese stretches in strings across the gap as if in a tv ad. The steam rises, the aroma permeates, and the experience begins.
Even so, you may say, it is just a sandwich. Nay, I say to you. That sandwich is a culinary experience worthy of praise. It is the kind of thing you enjoy so much you get sad when it is almost gone. I slowed down eating it today, taking smaller and smaller bites to make the experience last longer. When at last I finished it, I admit I was tempted to gnaw on my fingers in case the sandwich had left remnants of flavor there. Over the top? Yes. Accurate? I’m afraid so. You will just have to try it yourself now. You will be glad you did.