Every time I see something pop up in my news feed about the best/top/craziest/drunkest/fattest colleges or universities in the U.S., I feel compelled to read it. It’s always my hope that the University of Delaware will be on there and that I can say, “Oh yeah, that’s totally true.” But really, I guess that’s the case with any article or blog post that has to do with a place I’ve spent significant time at.
It’s funny, when I was living in Delaware, I couldn’t wait to graduate and move to a big city. Movies always told me that you go to college, you graduate, and then you live a glamorous life in a big city—even if you have to do a shitty job until someone discovers your true talent and gives you the job of your dreams. But even then, you still have a fabulous apartment, lots of girlfriends, and you date the jerk, only to end up with the most amazing man and perfect job ever.
So back to Delaware. I’m a big fan. I don’t miss actually being in school, but I do miss my life there quite a bit. And when I think of my life there, a lot of times it revolves around food (or drinking.)
I saw this article pop up in my feed the other day from Thrillist called The 33 Best College Sandwich Shops in America. I knew it was a long shot that UD would make it to the list considering how many schools there are in this country, but I am very familiar with the eats in DE and believe in my heart of hearts that they deserve a spot.
Lo and behold: Newark Deli & Bagels
When I moved to Delaware in 2001, I was a food virgin on so many levels. Once I started working in restaurants, however, all that changed. You can’t work in restaurants and not learn new things about food (or booze). Surprisingly, I learned all about Newark’s bagels while working at a brewery.
Typically, I’d get in for my shift around 8 or 9 in the morning and start my sidework. Maybe once or twice a work we’d all pass on the shift meal they were going to whip up for us in the kitchen and opted instead to get bagels from across the street (which is not Newark Deli & Bagels). At first, I ordered my usual plain bagel with cream cheese or butter. I was always grossed out by the idea of bagels that were anything but plain bread, but when I accidentally got the wrong bagel and was desperately hungry enough to eat it, that’s when I learned how wrong I was. Then I branched out and got raisin or wheat or everything bagels with butter.
Then one day as I sat in the hightops of the bar listening to the chef talk about the day’s specials to promote, I watched as my coworkers and friends ate bagels with eggs on top of them. Eggs and I hadn’t gone well together up until that point, but there was something about the smell that I couldn’t let go of: grease and poultry and dairy. I think it’s just one of those things that happens as you get older. Kind of like when I started craving shellfish in my late-20s. I gave up my all-consuming hatred and disgust for it, started to include it in my diet, and then I found out I was allergic. At least that never happened with eggs since I don’t think I could live without my bagel sandwiches.
I decided I had to try a bagel with an egg on it. I started nice and easy with an egg and cheese atop a toasted plain bagel. I guess “easy” would’ve been a bagel with an egg on it, but I just don’t like the idea of my sandwiches being cheese-free. The bagel-egg-and-cheese combo was good. Then I moved on to an egg, bacon, and cheese atop a toasted plain bagel. That was great. And I eventually graduated to an egg, bacon, and cheese atop a toasted everything bagel. Talk about a spectacular combination!
When I originally moved into the apartment on top of Newark Deli & Bagels (before I knew how wonderful bagel sandwiches were), I didn’t think much of it. I figured the occasional crowd outside my doorstep would be annoying, but I could deal. Soon after moving in I realized that every time our shower turned on it smelled of bagels and eggs and whatever else they were cooking downstairs. I hadn’t yet converted to a bagel sandwich lover, so I found it more annoying than anything at first.
Once I became a bagel sandwich convert. . .I was done for. I ate at Newark Deli & Bagels as often as I could. It was reasonably priced, made me feel like I was eating healthy (as opposed to a bowl of ramen or a box of Oreos), and they were always so damn quick. I’d place my order and then grab a seat to the right of the register (when available) so I could watch them make my sandwich in the back. Having never cooked an egg before in my life, it served as the education I needed to add bagel sandwiches into my diet once I moved away from Delaware.
Why did I ever leave you, Delaware? You’ve got so much to offer a glutton like me.