I’ve written love poems about food before, but never as illustrious as the following for the only sandwich on my radar, The Radical Reuben at The Chicago Diner. Sure, there are other sandwiches, some just as tasty and enjoyable as the Reuben, but this is the most sentimental of sandwiches. We’ve been kickin’ it since 2007, been through two brands of vegan cheese together, and this sandwich never disappoints. I may only make the trip a few times a year, and sometimes I get a different sandwich, but the Reuben doesn’t hold any petty grudges like other sandwiches do. That innate, radical confidence must help. Actually, I’m not even sure it has feelings, but that’s okay. It remains that kind of relationship that’s as close as ever, no matter how much time has passed. My last Reuben was about a year ago, but my next trip to the Diner, I just know it’ll greet me with open arms.
We first met in 2007. Teese cheese graced the presence of caramelized onions, peppers, sauerkraut, and corned beef seitan atop crusty rye. Incidentally, this was also my first trip to the Diner. Two years of veganism had gone by before the start* of our companionship, but I think the Reuben is quite forgiving, as there are many future years to order the sandwich.
*I considered using the word consummation in this sentence, but I’m not entirely sure the word can be used outside of a sexual context. Just to make things clear, this is completely platonic sandwich love, despite the colorful language within this blog post and the title of my blog. Not that there’s anything wrong with sexy sandwich love, if that’s what you feel. You probably have your own, slightly different blog.
This is the Radical Reuben of 2008, consumed voraciously on my birthday. Birthday sandwich! This time, my side of choice was mashed potatoes and gravy. A pickle spear completed the plate. There’s always a pickle spear.
Here are the innards, consistent with last year’s experience.
Then 2009 rolled around and I did not consume a single Radical Reuben all year. Dark times. But here’s the compromise: I have photos of other people’s reubens. And yes, they were people I was dining out with, not random Reubens. So really, I vicariously ate these Reubens. This is some six degrees of separation shit.
This is Louzilla’s Radical Reuben in 2009 on her first trip to Chicago, and therefore, the Diner. I hereby declare sweet potato fries to be the default side for any Reuben experience.
I had another chance to embrace the Radical Reuben in 2009, but did I take it? Guess not! I’m not sure what else was so important that a Reuben didn’t make it onto my plate during either trip that year. Still, this Reuben has no hard feelings from across the table.
Sometimes people make mistakes. Shit happens. It can be remedied with careful attention. What to do in this situation? Make your own Radical Reuben, of course. After the turbulence of 2009, January 2010 needed to start off right with a proper reintroduction to the wonder sandwich.
Did I have rye bread? No. Thinly sliced Upton’s seitan? No. This marinading process was very questionable. The beets made the Tofurky slices look like sunburned bologna swimming in Kool Aid.
But hey, it looks like a sandwich. And it was good! As good as the Diner’s? No. But it would hold me over for a while.
Then your dog tries to eat it. And you pause for a moment while writing this blog post because you really miss your dog. And the Radical Reuben. Then reassure yourself that you’ll see your dog and eat a Reuben sometime soon. Carry on.
Ohhh, lookie here. It’s 2010′s Radical Reuben. Notice Teese has retired and Daiya mozzarella is the new player in town at the Diner, adorning the modern day Radical Reuben. Sweet potato fries and a pickle spear, you know what’s up.
This brings us to the last Reuben of this post, the Radical Reuben of 2011. I broke the sweet potato fries rule here because the soup sounded really yummy. It was chipotle corn chowder or something.
Then you realize 2012 is nearly halfway through, which is absolutely ridiculous because it was totally just February, like last week. So get thee to the Chicago Diner before it’s too late and you live your own personal Radical Reuben dry spell hell all over again. Juicy flavorful seitan, sauerkraut, roasted peppers, onions, and a liberal helping of Thousand Island are all contained within two slices of toasty rye bread and waiting at the Diner for a meal of sandwich bliss!