Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Let Me Tell You How to Make a Sandwich

Chopped Herring Salad -- Barney Greengrass
Barney Greengrass

We are not wildly optimistic upon entering Barney Greengrass.
To Be Honest, Vodka Always Thought This was a Hardware Store
The item we are to try, the chopped herring salad, as per Alton Brown's choice on the AT A DELI episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate, does not sound especially appealing.  In fact, Vodka, who is generally not opposed to such fish salads, has tried it previously, and it made her want to gag.

Plus, we have another full day of eating ahead of us, and we are trying to pace ourselves.

For these reasons, when we approach the counter, Vodka asks the three workers standing behind it if we can have only a half sandwich of the chopped herring salad.

And they stare at us blankly.

Ginger pipes up to help clarify, and the vacant stares only become worse, slowly morphing into confusion.

Vodka, now unnerved by their silence, decides the best way to proceed is to explain exactly what we want accomplished: "One piece of bread, cut in half, so you put the bread, then the salad, then a tomato, then bread...."

In essence, she explains to them how to make a sandwich.
A How-To Lesson in Sandwich Making
Now their blank stares have turned into mocking amusement as they realize they are dealing with two loons.  They send us to the other end of the counter to consult the owner as to whether or not such a half-sandwich request would be feasible.  He, also discovering that we're insane, comes up with the plan to order a quarter-pound of chopped herring salad and one slice of bread.

Problem solved.  Except not really.

We return back to the other end of the counter, and it appears that everyone who works at Barney Greengrass has now been told of our antics.  After more confusion and consultations with the owner, we manage to procure a small cup of chopped herring salad and one solitary slice of rye bread.

And now we need a tomato.  And a knife.  Ever the problem children.
Perfectly Packaged Goods for the Two Pains
We retreat sheepishly out of Barney Greengrass to create our own (half) sandwich on the church steps next door.  After much difficulty, Vodka manages to pry the halves of the fresh bread and the thick juicy tomato slices apart ("I would be a terrible surgeon"). We scoop on just enough of the chopped herring, and we bite.

And now, we're the ones who have been silenced.
"I think that's enough," says Ginger
The chopped herring salad is odd - not bad, just odd.  As you bite in, it tastes delicious: tangy yet refreshing, like a less-creamy white fish salad.  Once you swallow, however, it leaves a decidedly strange aftertaste in your mouth, like applesauce that has been served in a fresh clam shell.
Thankfully, the Tomato Has Taken Over the Proceedings
The tomato and bread, which are both scrumptious, do much to counter-balance the chopped herring, but not enough to make us finish our sandwich half.  Ginger, however, does not feel right throwing out the rest of our quarter-pound of salad, and instead, she sticks it in her handbag until "I give up and dispose of it."
Ginger the Trash Picker
This moment comes two hours later when, after being outside in 80-degree weather for the better part of the day, Ginger opens her handbag and a strong stench of rotting ocean emerges.

And this, boys and girls, is why you don't carry trash in your handbag.

Barney Greengrass's Chopped Herring Salad: 2 stars

1 comment:

  1. ...and why all trash should be promptly eaten.