Munch goes to the Food for Thought Deli

Munch knew it was a mistake as soon as the words escaped the hole cut in the paper bag crown.

And though the simple exhortation, "I need some food for thought," was directed at no one in particular, it was well within earshot of Editor-of-Munch.

"Here's a thought," EOM retorted, "Get your copy in on time! Make deadline for a change!"

But Munch doesn't work on that literal plane, man. Munch isn't down with time constraints, and uh, responsibilities. Munch lives in the ethereal, a place where food for thought means vast discourse over the ethical merits of potato and cheese vs. sauerkraut pierogi; or whether hot dogs served sans ketchup are proof of the existence or non-existence of a deity.

In fact, Munch is a scholar on the subject, having examined countless works and texts: Kant's metaphysical treatise on wing sauce; Descartes' observation Cogito ergo cogito sum burrito (I think, therefore I think I want sum burritos); Nietzche's bold proclamation that "Ronald McDonald is dead"; and naturally, all of the writings of Sir Francis ... Bacon.

And Munch would like to add another self-authored piece: Munch's treatise, "On the rights of meatloaf," conducted at the cerebrally named, "Food For Thought" deli in Oakland.

The place is a splash of color and life on an otherwise drab block of North Oakland, and has the kind of made-to-order sandwich menu that puts Munch in mind of the delis that seem to exist every 10 feet in Manhattan, yet barely exist in every tenth neighborhood here in Pittsburgh.

The entire spectrum of luncheon meats is represented here, from capicolla to corned beef, served on breads from rye to pumpernickel (all single sandwiches $4.25-$8.25). Then there are the triple deckers -- six wonderful combinations of pastrami, turkey, roast and corned beef, cole slaw and Russian dressing (all $7.95).

But the worth-the-trip factor would be the specialty sandwiches ($3.95-$7.95) -- specifically the Meat Loaf sandwich. Consider for a moment, meat loaf. It's possibly the greatest comfort food ever designed. Now take a delicious slab of it, and put it between two slices of bread with some BBQ sauce. Simple, yet sublime. Kierkegaard would call it existential, Munch calls it loaf-a-riffic.

The Double Rubbed Pulled Beef Brisket sandwich is also quite good. Sides include potato latkes ($4.50), cheese blintzes ($1.60) and deviled crabs ($2.95); for dessert -- cheesecake from Junior's in Brooklyn ($4.95 and, yes, that Brooklyn), which is so good that eating it should be considered a near holy experience.

And though an altered state of consciousness wasn't quite reached -- though if there is such a thing as Meat Loaf Zen, the Bagged Head One will find it -- Munch did get some food for thought at ... y'know ... and EOM got his column. The idealist and the pragmatist both win.

Food For Thought Deli is located at 194 N. Craig St., Oakland. Call 412-682-5034.


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