Last week I was rewatching Chuck with my youngest son (Chuck is like a comfort food for us), and we got the episodes when Chuck meets Lou, the deli owner, and decided we needed to try those sandwiches.
Lou Palone first appears in Chuck Versus the Truth (season 1, episode8) when she brings her cell phone to the Buy More to be serviced, panicked because her "whole life" is on the phone. Chuck assures her the phone is in good hands. When Lou returns to pick up her phone, she brings a sandwich as a thank you: turkey and muenster cheese on egg bread. She's named the sandwich after Chuck.
In the next episode, Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami (season 1, episode 9), Chuck flashes on a poster in Lou's Deli, and ends up working a mission when he should be on date with Lou. Needless to say, the date is ruined. Later, Chuck brings flowers and hopes to apologize to Lou, but the deli is super busy and he ends up waiting and waiting. When he finally gets a chance to talk, she's only interested in working. So in an attempt to impress her, he places an order for a sandwich "in the Reuben family": rye bread, pastrami, muenster cheese, and coleslaw. Grilled.
This means there are two sandwiches named "The Chuck Bartowski"-- the one created by Lou and the one created by Chuck.
Of course we had to try both.
I was about seven years old when I first had a pastrami on rye sandwich. My dad and I stopped in a Shopsy's Delicatessen for lunch, and he ordered for both of us. I remember it came with mustard on it and a pickle on the side. I loved it from the first bite. It's funny, but every time I have a pastrami on rye, I'm reminded of that day with my Dad-- the craziness of the busy deli, the sour pickle, the ugliness of the brown and orange decor, and this really tasty sandwich.
The Chuck Bartowski had a lot to live up to. Not only did it have to meet the expectations built-up by the show, but it also couldn't destroy my childhood memories.
Interesting thing: I'd never heard of muenster cheese before and apparently neither have my local grocery stores. After a bit of Googling to find out more about it, we decided to use provolone as a substitute.
I also decided to add sopressata salami to the turkey sandwich because I expected the combination to be otherwise bland. This turned out to be a good decision. I wonder if the blandness of this sandwich was a deliberate choice by the writers. Were they trying to show Chuck through Lou's eyes as bland? As a turkey? As semi-soft American cheese?
(If you've seen the episodes, then you know why we went with provolone and sopressata.)
My favourite of the two sandwiches was the pastrami on rye. It's a surprisingly good sandwich with the coleslaw on the inside.
"Surprisingly good." Yeah, that's a fitting description for Chuck Bartowski.
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