In this chatty debut, a deli owner blends memoir and cookbook.
When Roseman was about to graduate from college, he and his parents opened a small sandwich shop and catering enterprise in Hamden, Connecticut. During a summer job in Manhattan, Pete noticed the cultural phenomenon of the nearly religious appreciation for an excellent sandwich in the middle of a busy day. He took this awareness into his own business, where he continued his education in the basics of food prep. As the family business progressed through several stages, finally becoming a popular Stamford, Connecticut, deli called the Gourmet Galley, Pete and his parents were often forced to learn on the fly. Whether coping with the catering disaster of running out of drinks during a heat wave or designing a simple trick to foil lunch-order thieves, the Rosemans met each challenge with perseverance, good humor, and appreciation for one another. Even while courting his future wife, Mei, Pete’s duties at the sandwich shop could not be shirked. Mei’s willingness to pitch in and help with the weekend rush confirmed his hopes that they were well-matched. Roseman’s prose, easygoing and informal, suits this unpretentious glimpse into the ethos of small business ownership, where the ambition is not multinational expansion but a good living through hard work. The memoir is strongest when the author is recalling pivotal personal experiences, such as an early restaurant job washing dishes or his return to practicing Judaism after years of nonobservance. It’s weakest when it attempts to be instructional. A section on “Sandwiches at Home” offers disappointingly generic advice, such as “buy a reputable brand of cold cuts” or “have some canned tuna around.” The sandwich recipes that punctuate the end of each chapter are bright spots of tantalizing simplicity. Especially notable is the “Light-n-Lively,” an enticing take on a BLT that adds avocado and sliced egg to a deli classic.
A lighthearted, low-stakes recollection of a family-owned business.