Friday, 18 October 2013

Subway comes to Ludlow, and my Reuben Sandwich (unedited) - South Shropshire Journal 11/10/13

Recently our mother paper, the Shropshire Star reported that over the next few years the global jumbo-sandwich chain Subway is to open something like 645489982 new branches in our county, in turn creating 960930852098 new jobs. My figures may be slightly out - I didn’t read it - but it’s something along these lines.

In the north of the county this sort of news is not going to ruffle too many feathers. Telford, Oswestry, Wolverhampton, well they’re all kind of Subway-ish places.

But here in Ludlow, where Subway is to open within the next few weeks, the news is causing a bit of brouhaha. The mess! The frightful smell! What will people think? Our town is the gastronomic capital of all England! (Which it’s not, by the way. When will people get over it?) Well, I think we just need to suck it up. It’s just a little shop in a little shop (Ludlow’s branch is going to be a teensy franchise stuffed at the back of the existing Spar), selling a few foot-long ‘subs’ to spotty college students (a small minority) and hungover unemployed people (a slightly larger minority). I won’t be feeding the giant, but I’m not going to make a big deal over it. There are many perfectly good sandwiches to be had in this town.

However, the best sandwich in Ludlow, possibly in Shropshire, or even the whole world was the Reuben Sandwich that I made this week with my good friend Reuben. The Reuben was born in an American deli back in the 1920s. Many delis, and many Reubens claimed to be its creator. Quite honestly I couldn't care, because minor historical details shouldn't get in the way of a good Reuben.

So, Reuben being the most Jewish goy I know seemed like the most suitable person to build this bad-boy with. Because really the Reuben is so much more than a sandwich, that one builds rather than simply makes it.

It goes something like this: find a large, fatty rolled up piece of brisket (see your local jolly butcher), steep it in a brine to which you add your own secret blend of herbs and spices. Wait for a fortnight. Then, boil it up for a good five hours until it’s tender and sexy and whiffs a bit like tinned corned beef. Meanwhile find a Polish delicatessen and buy a big jar of sauerkraut (I went to west London for mine). Find some good Swiss cheese and make proper Thousand Island dressing. Make your own rye bread, or cheat and find a baker who’ll do it for you (thanks Peter Cook of Price’s in Ludlow).  And you’re all set. Unfortunately I’ve run out of inches, such is the Reuben’s complexity, but believe me, it’s worth the effort. I hereby expect dozens of letters demanding the recipe. We’ll see…

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