To me, a good Reuben sandwich is like a good cocktail. It combines ingredients I don't typically consume on their own — say, corned beef and thousand island dressing, or gin and tonic water — to invent a flavor that's new and magical. The same could be said for any good sandwich, I suppose, but the Reuben fascinates me most of all, partly because it's the only way I'll eat corned beef or thousand island dressing.
Unlike many American sandwiches, the Reuben's formula is universally agreed upon. Walk into any neighborhood deli, and the Reuben is the same: corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, rye, and the dreaded orangey dressing, comfortingly warmed and sliced in half. Dating back to 1914 or 1925 depending on who you believe, the Reuben contains so much American sandwich history between its rye bread, following in the footsteps of the rural German bierock, urban Jewish delis, and late-night drunken eats everywhere.
Not surprisingly, the Reuben also has a conflicted history, with several people staking a claim to its invention, so this week, I'm serving up a series of posts all about the Reuben. So come back and come hungry.