When I travel to the Boston area I am always reminded of the Kingston Trio song about Charlie’s ride on the MTA. On my most recent trip, I purchased my “Charlie Ticket” and rode the “T” to the Kendall Square Station (where Charlie “handed in his dime”) and then walked just a few blocks to Mamaleh’s Delicatessen.
Upon entering the deli I was greeted and welcomed by John Kessen, one of the owners. The restaurant was bustling with diners enjoying bagels, fish plates, deli sandwiches, chicken soup, chopped liver, latkes and other great deli items. After a very short wait I was seated at a small table near the window. I took one look at the menu and saw a number of must-try items. I started with a bowl of chicken soup with duck kreplach (a 21st century iteration of a traditional Jewish staple). It was delicious.
My next course was “gribenes,” an old school preparation of cholesterol, disguised as crispy fried pieces of chicken skin and onions. (Traditionally, "gribenes" or "grieven" consists of the chicken skin cracklings with fried onions that is the byproduct in the rendering of chicken schmaltz.) This was even more delicious and brought back memories of my grandmother feeding me this wonderful food in my early childhood. The ladies seated at the table next to me were so intrigued by this delicacy, that I shared my order of gribenes with them.
The grand finale of my lunch was a “fresser” size pastrami sandwich. This sandwich consisted of well-flavored, steamed pastrami layered onto traditional east coast marble rye bread. Again – it was delicious.
I enjoyed the experience so much that two-days later, before heading to the airport for my return flight home, I stopped at Mamaleh’s once again, enjoyed a bowl of matzo ball soup and then took a pastrami sandwich with me for dinner on the plane.
Although Charlie may never return from his MTA ride, you can be assured that I look forward to my return to Mamaleh's.
Mamaleh's Delicatessen, One Kendall Square/Building 300, 15 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139, (617) 958-3354, mamalehs.com .