Discover more from What's Good?
Now I'll never stop talking about The Sandwich!!!
A true HERO WORSHIP, plus a lifeguard story. #45
not my car
As a journalist, you live every day with rejection. For every story that comes out there are so many dead ends behind it, so many unread emails. Every single day I make phone calls that could end in somebody telling me to go f myself, or even worse, they politely decline to comment. As a reporter you have to ask elected officials questions and they might tell you, “gee, nobody else seems to care about that, why are you asking me this.” Sometimes you get a tip that goes nowhere.
As I traveled down the hero highway, all the lights were green. Strangers really did want to talk to me about this sandwich, and in great detail. I know this doesn’t happen very often, so let me really relish in it.
My obsession with The Sandwich became a passion project. As I described in the article, I became an evangelist, consumed by it. Some might say I was “weird” or “annoying” about it, but I just wanted to share the joy. My dear friend Serena Dai saw that enthusiasm and pitched it at BA, and she was one of the great editors who worked on this with me. I don’t often write about food, so it took a few edits to get it right — how to describe the thing I enjoyed better than “it’s just really good,” and how I could tie it all together in a way that was comprehensive. Beautiful even, which is always the goal.
I prefer reporting to writing, because I am a very nosey person, so all of this digging was my favorite part. I loved learning the history of The Sandwich, of the families who owned that building on the corner of Rutland and New York, and thinking about everyone who’d walked through those doors. I loved looking for old new clips of Charlie Punzone, who created The Sandwich in the 1950s.
I loved talking to Paul and Tara Punzone, a father and daughter who clearly loved each other deeply and of course loved Charlie, who inspired Tara to be a chef, where she puts her own spin on Italian cooking.
Specific things really interested me, like that the corner where the deli stands has had three different neighborhood names over the last 100 years. And when I found out why the artichoke parm was invented — to draw in the Catholic customers on Fridays, back when you weren’t supposed to eat meat that day even when it wasn’t Lent — I think I said a Hail Mary.
My reporting revealed a story about much more than an artichoke parm, and the editors truly guided all of that along. It’s about food and families and neighborhoods and New York City and the ways we can all show love for each other through food. It is not easy to run a business here and I’m so happy Mama Louisa’s has been shown more love (and $$) since the story came out.
I can’t promise I’ll stop talking about The Sandwich now that the story’s out, but I hope everyone finds something unexpected and delicious that leads them on this type of journey. When you do, please share it with me.
photo by peggy truong, april 2023
✨ Other interesting reads✨
This week I also wrote about New York City’s lifeguard school, and the anti-Parks Department messaging that’s shared there. [THE CITY]
My colleague Yoav Gonen wrote about the latest Mayor Adams relative to join the city’s municipal workforce at a very nice salary. [THE CITY]
I loved this look at hip hop and politics in New York City, read the whole issue! [CITY & STATE]
Thanks for reading!