The Story of The Rachel
Once upon a time, a brown eyed girl named Rachel lived in a small Midwestern town. Her family occupied a hundred year old house surrounded by edible gardens. Their kitchen was always bustling with cooking activity. Granny invited Rachel and her little brother Reuben to lunch. Father sliced off some fresh homemade corned beef and pastrami and sent them to walk the few blocks to Granny's.
Ten year old Rachel and six year old Ruben peaked into their wicker basket lined with checked cloth. Rachel's mouth began watering and her thoughts turned to what would pair well with the cured briskets. Waiting at the cross walk, Reuben picked up a nickel while Rachel dreamed of the perfect sandwich for Granny.
"Eww! Did you know money is one of the germiest things in America?!" Rachel admonished her little brother. "Let's go, the light changed."
Across the street, Rachel and Reuben stepped into the grocery store. Rachel had decided that rye bread with its spicy seeds and dark color would contrast nicely with the rich pastrami. She passed by the cabbage and placed a head in her basket. "Crunchy cabbage would be good on a sandwich too, don't you think?" she muttered to Reuben. Reuben ignored her, running his hand along the rows of shiny apples.
They passed the cheese display on the way towards the checkout. "And some melted swiss on top," Rachel concluded.
"Can I get a chocolate bar? PLEASE?" Reuben begged his sister at the checkout. Rachel refused, saying "You know there will be cookies at Granny's, Reuben. No candy now." The cashier rang them out and the siblings walked back into the sunshine outside.
They soon arrived at Granny's to her smothering hugs. As predicted, Granny offered them cookies. Reuben grabbed one in each hand and looked for a way to hold a third before Rachel reminded him they were planning to make Granny lunch.
Rachel searched Granny's fridge for the rest of the ingredients for her creation. She mixed mayonnaise and mustard with sliced cabbage to make coleslaw and whipped together ketchup, mayo and relish for a sandwich dressing. Rachel carefully sliced the pastrami, layered on swiss cheese and broiled it to melt. "Reuben, are you making something with yours? Come on! I'm almost done!" big sister hollered.
Fueled by cookies, Reuben threw together a sloppy sandwich of rye bread, corned beef and swiss topped with what he found in Granny's cupboard - thousand island dressing and sauerkraut.
The grandkids served their sandwiches side by side. Rachel's was layered with perfect proportions of pastrami, cheese, coleslaw, and dressing on rye. Reuben's was a hot mess on a plate. "Try mine first!" Reuben insisted. Granny bit into his slip-sliding dressed corned beef between bread. It was so goopy that it fell from her hands. Her dog snatched it in midair and swallowed in one gulp.
Granny was able to enjoy the whole of Rachel's sandwich. She loved the balance of flavor and texture among the layers of pastrami, coleslaw, cheese, and dressing. Granny sighed with contentment, "That is one fantastic sandwich. Thank you Rachel!"
Many years later, Reuben opened a deli and offered the Reuben sandwich to all the world. At the urging of Granny, he put the Rachel on the menu too.
This entirely fictional story of the Rachel and Reuben sandwiches was inspired by the March Charcutepalooza challenge, brining. The pictures of corned beef and the Reuben sandwich are the very real and exceptionally delicious brined and cooked brisket we made.
If weather had cooperated, some of the beef would have been smoked into pastrami to create a Rachel sandwich. Alas, nearly-spring rains prevented us from firing up the smoker. As I am enthralled with the idea of eating a sandwich that shares my name, we must make pastrami at home soon.