New Year’s Penicillin

18 Sep

I have found myself spending much of my time in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx lately. Usually I’m sitting at a small ball field just next to the Major Deegan Expressway watching baseball with the incessant hum of traffic as background noise. But the other day I took a break between games and wandered around the bustling enclave around Broadway and 231st Street under the tracks of the number 1 train.

In a neighborhood where Spanish is the predominate language heard on the streets and rice and beans joints the typical cuisine, I was surprised to notice a Kosher deli named Loeser’s squeezed amongst the Latin-tinged outlets. I took a closer look at the deli and on its window  accolades such as the “best pastrami in NYC” were plastered along with the proclamation of a 50th Anniversary. So even though the aroma of rotisserie chicken from one of the said rice and beans joints was seriously tempting me, I felt I had to pay tribute to a place with such fierce survival skills.

The man behind the counter was the same man in many of the pictures on the wall posing with family and luminaries from the Bronx. His name was Fredy.

“How about some pastrami,” he said when I entered the barren, narrow time warp of a deli.

I looked around. Much of the signage was ancient. The evening was cool. The summer was turning to a crisp autumn.

I noticed the “Jewish penicillin” sign. “I’ll take the chicken soup,” I said.

“And pastrami?”

“No, just the soup.”

“Potato salad?”

I shook my head.

Maybe some potato pancakes or stuffed cabbage?

“No thanks.”

“What about a knish?”

I thought for a moment.

“Okay, a knish,” I said.

“You want mustard?”


“I’ll slice it into the knish,” Fredy said. “Take a seat.”

The soup was brought to me in a plastic take out container with a few slices of rye bread. The knish came on a separate paper plate.

I sipped at the hot soup, moistening the rye bread in the broth before eating it. No one came into the deli while I was eating. Fredy was busy preparing a large turkey dinner, pouring brown gravy over it.

After finishing the soup, I wrapped up the knish, paid Fredy and then returned to the cacophony on 231st street and beyond. I caught a whiff of the intoxicating aroma of the rotisserie chicken from the rice and beans joint before it was overpowered by exhaust from a city bus. The hum of traffic on the Deegan had gone up a few decibels. It was getting dark and cooler. The game was about the start and the lights I noticed were on; the small field now illuminated. I sat and took out the knish.  It was still warm. I bit into it. The potato filling was moist and, just as Fredy promised, there was a smear of spicy deli mustard at its core.

Loeser’s Deli
214 W. 231st St

2 Responses to “New Year’s Penicillin”

  1. rebecca2000 September 18, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    Thanks for visiting me. I hope you come back. I am following you now. 🙂



  1. Baklava in the Bleachers « Fried Neck Bones…and some home fries - October 16, 2012

    […] I said in these pages about a month ago (New Year’s Penicillin), I’ve been spending a lot of time just off the 230th Street exit of the Major Deegan, sitting on […]

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