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Craving to Aversion

September 1, 2008

A Nice But Sad Story About A Sandwich

Unlike my usual non-pregnant state of affairs, when people laugh at me for having very specific ideas about what I would like to eat at a particular time, I have not been experiencing cravings, but rather aversions.

However: I’ve been wanting and wanting one of these Italian sandwiches. The ones on bread with sesame seeds and a hundred kinds of meat of varying shades of pink — mortadella, salami, capicolla — meat that you don’t want to think too much about but that you do want to have in the context of this sandwich, and provolone and shredded lettuce and tomato and oil and vinegar and cherry peppers that have been packed in vinegar. On occasion my husband will make us go way out of the way for one of these, and when I got a craving I knew I couldn’t have the whole hog, as it were, due to the possible poisonous effects of cured meats on incubating babies. But I wondered what could possibly happen if I had one bite of one that was technically his. I explained my desire for a sandwich to him one Saturday morning before we’d gotten up.

“You should have one if you want . . . ” he said, in a calm tone that foreshadows how he will be an effective parent, ” . . . but would you really be comfortable with doing it?”

Scowl. Not after that polite but reasonable lecture. “What about if you ordered one with everything but the meat,” he suggested, helpfully, and since I am more interested in the trappings than the substance (meat) of a sandwich, that actually seemed like a brilliant idea.

I spent some time researching where I could get the best Italian sandwich in Brooklyn. Leoni’s Latticini in Bensonhurst kept coming up on sandwich-loving message boards. I mapquested it, and saw that it was an 11 minute drive from our house. It was a weekday so I was sure to finish work by 5:50 because I’d called and they told me they closed at 6:30. I arrived at 6:10 and the lights were lowered and a few men were sweeping up. It looked like it was open enough if you wanted a can of soda or a ball of cheese. BUT WHAT ABOUT A SANDWICH?

“Too late for sandwiches, huh?” I called out as I went in. A Mexican man behind the counter who was finishing cleaning the meat slicing machine responded, “I can only get you a chicken parm.”

I like chicken parm, don’t get me wrong, but the whole store was hung with exciting signs describing different sorts of subs, and I’d really tried to do my homework in service of getting myself ALMOST the sandwich I wanted, if not the exact one — and it all seemed a bit sad.

If I couldn’t have the sandwich I wanted or even the sandwich I had decided to settle for, there was still no way I was walking out of Bensonhurst with no sandwich. I’d take the bronze.

“I’ll take a parm,” I told him, with a hint of resignation.

As he cut the bread, the man he asked what I had really come for. I replied that I wanted one of the Italians subs, but without the meat. He did a double take, since Italians subs are all about the meat.

“You want one without the meat?

So I explained that of course I want it with the meat, but I’m pregnant, so I can’t have that kind of meat. And I figured I’d just get it with provolone.

He paused. He looked into my soul. He said, “My dear, I am going to make you whatever you like.”

People can be lovely, right? He reopened the slicing machines he’d just finished cleaning and made me a giant veggie italian sandwich. I was so happy. I brought it home, settled into a comfortable chair on our porch, and ate 1/2 of it.

I was up all night sick.

Still, I can’t blame him if a craving turned into an aversion.

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