Well, once again, I am posting a week later than initially anticipated. But better late than never, right?
You may recall that when I was in the car business, we used the term "cracked" to describe when we maximized profit on a customer. Ever since then, I have been entirely wary of entrepreneurial attempts to sack my pocketbook.
So it is that I walked into Katzinger's Delicatessen in Columbus, Ohio (featured in the pic) yesterday on our return trip from Chicago. I had stopped once before more than two years back after haphazardly discovering the establishment. I recalled the location, the lofty, left-wing attitude of its customers and that President Clinton ate there while in office--there's a pic of him visiting the place on the wall.
I remembered how Katzinger's is in the old German village section of Columbus. It's the "cultural" section, the same way you think of "cultural" when thinking of DuPont Circle in D.C., or Belmont in Chicago. It's clean. There's brick paved streets and architectually pleasing structures throughout. But the gay element hangs around like a series of bad apples.
The one thing, though, that I forgot is how outrageous Katzinger's prices are. The minimum price for all their sandwiches with meat was $9.95 (1/4 lb.). For the 1/2 lb. try $11.95.
Ok, to be fair, Katzinger's makes some great--even fantastic, to-die-for--food, and not all of their prices are horrible. They support local industry and all that. They offer unlimited pickle action, great deli ambience and a selection of olive oils that would probably make any olive oil enthusiast drool profusely. I say "probably" because my olive oil experience is limited, but still took the time sample some of their available varities and checked out their overall selection. It was all top notch, but so were the price tags.
Anyway, my point: $12.00 for a sandwich?! WTF? I don't pay that in NYC where sandwiches dominate all over the place. This is Columbus middle-of-nowhere Ohio. My sandwich at Katzinger's was good, very good, but at $11.95 I am expecting fireworks and small nuclear explosions. Clare's sandwich, on the other hand, was out of this world and arguably worth every hard-earned penny. Hmmmm.
This brings me to my first and primary point. I was cracked. I know it. I practically walked in knowing it. They lost money when it came to the pickles, I hope, especially the ones we pocketed before leaving. You laugh, but I kid you not. Katzinger's pickles made it to Stafford, VA as surely as you can say "Dill or Garlic?" and "No bloody shame."
So, you the reader, are probably asking (and rightly so) why I bothered to spend the money, then, if I abhor the prices that much. Well, the truth is I abhor virtually every fast food chain in America except Subway much more in principle than I do an off-the-beaten path, mom-and-pop liberal food-shrine like Katzinger's.
I guess you can say I am nearly an ideologue when it comes to my food. I buy organic as much as I can and would willingly high-five in the middle of the store a like-minded conservative for shopping at Whole Foods. When I shopped there regularly, I never had to worry about my meat being recalled for hormones and shit being pumped into it. I just went back into my apartment feeling fortunate and exuberant about my amazing, tasty and environmentally-friendly food.
There are some who have called me and believe, quite seriously, that I am a yuppie for my preferences in food. Oh, shame on you for not knowing any better, fools! I consider myself as having superior and sometimes expensive taste, yes. It's slightly arrogant, maybe, but when you have had supreme, whether it's mom's home cookin' or a 5-star restaurant, you know when something's low-grade. You know when something is shit. When you have taken the trouble of creating a healthy diet consisting of quality foods that you can afford, you have a pretty good idea of when you are being served 7-day-old f'ing roadkill.
Yuppie, a term coined in the 80s, actually means "young, upward moving professional." But also tends to refer to the kind of people who lack a personality outside the bounds of a corporately defined atmosphere like Starbucks, a corporation that has successfully created an ethos that implies it has a monopoly on cool. Except in a pinch, I eschew Starbucks and the man-bag wielding fags who think they're the shit because they know the difference between a grande and a mocha. Dudes. Starbucks is hit or miss. Often, it is passable. Their espresso is usually fairly good, yes, but their coffee is generally no-better than caffienated poison.
But it's not the coffee drinks that piss me off so much as its corporate attitude and culture, which might well say: "If you don't drink coffee here, you have no taste and make up the sector of society we can safely entitle 'the nameless rabble.'" Yah, ok. Right. While I think Starbucks has created more enthusiasm about coffee in general, it has lowered the bar culturally when it comes to superior coffee.
But this post is not about coffee as much as it is about food. Should we bother paying more for excellent fare even if it is located in a painfully liberal and quasi-arrogant place like Katzinger's in Columbus, OH, or Georgetown, or Hyperion in Fredericksburg, VA? My own thoughts on the matter is to choose your battles wisely, should you even care in the first place. I can only handle so much of the freaky-deaky liberal-types who tend to frequent said shops and keep them in business.
Indeed, it's a shame that it's liberal idealogues who most often, it seems to me, form the vanguard of the "good food" and "good food awareness" corridors in the more upbeat neighborhoods across our country. It's not something we tend to think about, but nevertheless an issue so close to home it's in our refrigerator. Eating better food may cost more money in the end, but I think the rewards are highly worth it.
Happy New Year,