“I think I’m going to Subway.”
“You’re going to take the Subway?”
“No, I’m going to the Subway sandwich emporium.”
A conversation between Ben Morse and Rickey Purdin on Monday, November 7, 2011. Ben ended up going to Qdoba after all.
When last we left my saga with the Subway sandwich chain (Eat Fresh), the relationship was anything but healthy. I went on at length ruminating about the pangs of loss I felt from a childhood filled with bread cut from the top that gave way to an adult life consumed by rolls sliced in the traditional fashion. I had forsaken Subway, preferring to find my heroes (double meaning) across the counters of non-chain delis and the like.
But things change.
Primarily, I remained working in New York City on a regular basis where I realized that there are more Subways than there are trashcans, foot long sandwiches cost five dollars, and most delis charge like $30 for a pickle.
Also, I am told Subway is relatively healthy (by everybody except Dave Paggi and Ryan Penagos, who are food snobs).
So my love affair with Subway resumed, and I must say, while the passionate romance of my younger years may have subsided, a sensible and mutually beneficial adult relationship has taken its place.
To celebrate this renewed union, my five favorite Subways subs of yesteryear and today(year).
HONORABLE MENTION: Old School Steak & Cheese
The only sub that could lure occasionally me away from the Meatball when I was a kid (keep reading) was the Steak & Cheese. However, I remember the halcyon days where the steak was practically shredded as opposed to the cubes or uniformly sliced strips they use now; a sad loss.
Cold Cut Combo
The Cold Cut Combo is where I go once in a blue moon when I really want to let my hair down and go wild. That turkey-based bologna is the key brother; I don’t think it’s on any other sandwich and it’s probably illegal in some countries. Don’t order a Cold Cut Combo unless you’re ready for an experience.
In the summer of 2004, I helped work pre-camp at my beloved Camp Frank A. Day up in East Brookfield, Massachusetts, which basically meant I spent my days mowing grass, repairing cabins, setting up docks and doing other manly tasks, then found myself more or less alone in a spooky cabin in the middle of the woods as soon as the sun went down. It was a 20 minute drive to civilization and the nearest non-mess hall food, so when I grabbed dinner, I needed to make it count. Enter the Subway Club, a mountainous concoction containing turkey, roast beef and ham that when supplemented with veggies and mayo could keep your belly full and your mind keen (I also got one of the local girls who worked the counter to give me her Subway visor). I haven’t had a Club in years, but it got me through some tough nights in the (relative) wilderness.
A sentimental favorite, the Meatball sub from Subway (we didn’t use fancy terms like “Marinara” back in the 90’s) was a staple of my childhood. After basketball games on Saturday mornings (I was terrible at basketball and gave it up the minute I was old enough to wrestle, but my dad, bless him, held out hope during those early years), my father would take me by either Burger King or Subway to combat the physical fitness I had just taken part in, and if it was the latter, I always got a Meatball sandwich. It doesn’t rank higher at the moment because my two favorite components of the sub were the top cut bread which I’m complained about being gone already and coating it in American cheese that would melt right on. Time and lactose intolerance have robbed me of these simple pleasures, but I’ll still fire up a cheese-less Marinara now and again for old time’s sake.
Black Forest Ham
My favorite option at the moment off the $5 Foot Long menu. As I have already mentioned several times already, I am lactose intolerant, meaning I need to find sandwiches that can give me that hit of flavor even when devoid of cheese, mustard or mayo (I think I can actually have the latter two, but I don’t, because I’m paranoid). Ham is nice and salty with a kick if done right (and Subway does everything right), so you don’t need to rely on dressing for flavor. Throw some lettuce, cucumbers, pickles and black olives on for added value and nutrition or whatever, toast the bun and singe the meat a bit, and you’ve got an ideal lunch for your hungry comic book web site editor on the go.
For years, I struggled with the fact that I love to eat hamburgers and would gladly have them for lunch, but for the most part they are too heavy/filling for me to go back to work after having, and thus I relegated them to dinners and special occasions. Imagine my joy at experiencing the revelation about 20 years after most do that a roast beef sandwich is essentially a hamburger you can eat without resulting fullness-induced lethargy! The Subway near the Marvel offices slings a mean Roast Beef foot long, and you can further simulate the burger experience by topping it with lettuce, pickles and ketchup (I don’t like tomatoes on my burgers/roast beef sandwiches, that’s what the ketchup is for) and making sure the bun is nice and toasted. I also get black olives because I love black olives. This is my current go-to when I’ve got enough to splurge outside the $5 menu (during October, it was Anytober, where all foot longs were $5, including the Roast Beef—it was glorious) and thus at the moment it tops the list.