We ordered too much food. Which is exactly why my brother was the perfect person to embark on this epicurean journey with. Here we were. The “here” specifically being Langer’s Deli, serving up “traditional comfort food since 1947.” Gold praised Langer’s pastrami, but of course his reviews always revealed so much more about the city of LA then the one stop on this tour. We absolutely experienced what Jonathan described on entering, “within the deli itself you may wait for a table with customers speaking Spanish, Korean or Chiapan dialect, though probably not Yiddish.” Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait for a table, in fact the host was jarringly eager to seat us immediately. And as he ushered us to the back of the restaurant we passed tables of a wider cultural tapestry than captured even by Mr. Gold.
As this was our first stop, my brother and I established some rules for this game. Anyone can join, as long as he and I were dining at each stop together. As we’re both stupidly stretched thin, busy working parents, it might take us some time to get through the list. As Zaya noted, at first excitedly, “Hey if we eat at a restaurant a week..” then pausing to do the quick math, “this will take us like two years.” Hence another rule was born, if the restaurant on the list has closed, we simply move on. Basic rules in check, we ordered.
My 14 year old son, a budding foodie, was enthusiastic to join on this and as many others as he was allowed. So the three of us smiled up at the waitress and told her we were ready. She was certainly an integral part of the time capsule we were sitting in, but the years hadn’t jaded her. She seemed to somehow still be delighted in our Langer’s naivety and wondered aloud “how will you finish all this food?” Specifically, chili cheese fries, chocolate milk shake (for Laz) which came with the elusive silver cup(!), tuna melt on house double baked rye, two Pastrami sandwiches, one with kraut and something called “nippy” cheese and the other with slaw and russian dressing. Oh and cheese blintzes because, well, they were on the menu.
The long drive gave us big appetites.We dug in. Laz ate so much, so fast, he quickly excused himself for the restroom and we didn’t see him again for a good 15 minutes. The meal was deeply satisfying. The food was comforting, the ambiance felt nostalgic, sweet with the appealing edge of LA grit. Of course being in the belly of LA because of the man they called the belly of LA, with two of my favorite guys, laughing at the circumstances and pleased with the commitment we’d embarked on, made it a very rich day indeed.