Ode to a Reuben sandwich | Art & Appetite

By James Spangler | Jan 08, 2015

After space flight and the development of the combustion engine, the greatest human achievement of the 20th century is the Reuben sandwich.

Well, that may be overstating it a bit. Incandescent light might have the Reuben beat out by a hair.

No one is absolutely certain where the Reuben came from.

Some argue New York, some say Omaha or possibly Lincoln, Neb. Somewhere between 1915 and 1937, the Reuben started showing up on menus.

Wherever I go, if I find a Reuben sandwich on a lunch menu, I order it.

The primary ingredients of a classic Reuben are: corned beef, toasted rye bread, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and Russian dressing.

Acceptable variations include: turkey, pastrami, toasted pumpernickel, coleslaw and Thousand Island dressing. It’s not unusual to see Dijon mustard on West coast versions.

I guess it’s the flavor combinations of sweet, sour and savory that have me smitten.

The soft texture of the meat contrasted by the slight crispiness of the bread also play a role – elevating the Reuben sandwich above all others in my esteem.

Christopher's on Whidbey, a great restaurant over in Coupeville, has an amazing Reuben.

If you need an excuse to take a day trip over to Whidbey – this is it. Save room for dessert. Their chocolate mousse is memorable too.

But here in town, hiding right under your very nose at The Cheesemonger’s Table, is a turkey Reuben that deserves to be lauded.

Poetry should be written, songs sung, battles fought – okay maybe no battles, but I’m telling you, yum!

The Cheesemonger’s Table, owned by freshman state legislator Strom Peterson, has an amazing array of cheeses and other delectable gourmet foods available for sale.

They have a tremendous beer and wine list, charming decor, friendly and highly competent staff and delicious popcorn infused with truffle oil.

They carry Larry’s Honey – a local beekeeper – so you might even be eating honey provided by bees that pollinated your own trees. And, they also have the best Reuben sandwich for miles around.

My kids each had a classic grilled cheese sandwich – their tastes differ from mine somewhat – but they were very pleased with their sandwiches as well.

In the book How I Learned To Cook – Culinary Educations From the World’s Greatest Chefs, a collection of about 40 short essays by great chefs, what comes through in essay after essay is the passion the writers have for their craft.

Most memorable quote so far?

“Cooking, is like making love, it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.”

It’s pretty obvious that Peterson and his staff have that passion too.

Drop in some time and order the Turkey Reuben “extra messy.” Extra napkins are provided, so enjoy it with abandon!

The Cheesemonger’s Table - Old Milltown

203 5th Avenue South #1, Edmonds

425-640-8949 www.cheesemongerstable.com


Comments (1)
Posted by: Judith Sandra Schainen | Jan 09, 2015 10:40

Dear Mr. Spangler:

Thank you for tour review of the Reuben sandwich.  I just returned from visiting my brother in Oakland , Oregon last week-end, and ordered a Reuben sandwich at Mcmenemans Restaurant...they also have a delicious sandwich in Roseburg.  I told my brother that I usually order a Reuben sandwich when it is available, in honor of him.  His name happens to be Reuben.


Happy New Year to you and your family.


Judith S. Schainen

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