Sandwiches are such a commonplace of American life that we tend to forget their aristocratic origins -- created in a moment of legendary inspiration by an earl too deep in his gaming cups to eat.
Nowdays, most sandwiches tend to be either faddish or flat, brown-bagged to school or brief-cased to the boardroom. They are, in fact, convenience foods, too often stripped of the adventuresomeness the earl dealt into his dagwood.
But when it comes to sandwich exotica, the Booeymonger is the only game in town. Sloppy, sprouty, drippy, beefy, leafy, greasy, cheesy; if anyone ever writes a junk-food rock opera, it'll be set overnight at the Booey.
These are the kind of self-indulgent combos to which you became addicted as a teen-ager and for which a blinding desire strikes you after nine dusty innings going four for four. They take off from the classics and get funnier and funkier as they go.
The classic Newyawker Reuben (hot corned beef with sauerkraut and swiss on rye) evolves into the West Coast-inspired Golden Gate (hot corned beef and muenster with carrots on French bread, a treatment which seems a trifle effete for corned beef).
Steak 'n' cheese comes New Jersey-style (hot roast beef, melted provolone, grilled onions and tomatoes on rye with mayo) or more Philly-wise (the Steak Special, thin-sliced steak and provolone, green peppers in place of tomatoes and French bread).
There's hot ham and cheese (the Hamster, with onions and green peppers on a hard roll); hot ham and egg salad (the Debeaux, with alfalfa sprouts on Branola, more the sort of meal a modern mother might make for breakfast); hot ham and cheese and coleslaw (the Sloppy Jaws, with Russian dressing on a roll -- the "pile your picnic up together" dish).
Cold roast beef tends to the minimalist: the decadent Pegasus with sour cream and mushrooms (a personal favorite); the self-consciously sophisticated Gatsby Arrow with brie; the demonically debauched Exorcist with bleu -- all bedded on French bread.
There are three different vegetarian surprises: the semi-ascetic Pita Pan (veggies and sprouts, muenster and mushrooms, avocado wedges and dressing pocketed in pita); the fern bar-ish and slightly bland Tish Wish (avocado, mushrooms, tomatoes and sprouts on Branola), and the irresistible but incredibly sloppy Veggie Special (spinach, tomatoes, sprouts, onions and mushrooms all grilled together, topped with provolone and slathered onto French bread) -- if you're wearing anything cleaner than a softball jersey, carry it out.
Not only does that not exhaust the list of specials -- subs, Scheherazades (turkey, swiss and chutney), pastramis, bagels, burgers -- but you also can order the more basic ingredients in bourgeois form, from bologna to BLT.
For lighter tastes, there is a range of salads, quiches, yogurts, sweets and the like. And although the Booey is no longer open all night every night, it can still slide you through the weekend's wee hours. And what's the late late show without a sandwich?