There’s been a lot of talk lately about ‘having it all’, and what this means for women. Can we have it all, should we have it all, do we even want to have it all? What does “having it all” even mean? People seem to think that “it all” means a successful career and a happy family. Having either of these things is still a daunting prospect for me at the moment, and even if I had those things, I don’t think I’d have it all. I’d be missing one thing. One very important thing: a sandwich.
You see, just as Liz Lemon’s life philosophy is to do whatever Oprah tells her, my life philosophy is to do whatever Liz Lemon does. And Liz Lemon believes “that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich.” Of course, Liz wants the career and family too, and while it’s often lost in the hilarity, 30 Rock follows her quest to ‘have it all.’ Liz tries to balance dating and wanting children while managing a wacky band of writers, all the while never forgetting to indulge her love of food.
But when push comes to shove, if one can’t have it all, what does one choose? Fortunately, I don’t have to decide for myself, as in Season Two, Episode 14, Liz decides for me.
Once a year, Sandwich Day happens to the staff of TGS. On this day, the teamsters bring in sandwiches from an unknown shop in Brooklyn, and they are the sandwiches to end all sandwiches, complete with dipping sauce. Liz ends up attempting to take hers through airline security while chasing after her ex-boyfriend Floyd. Momentarily thwarted by the fact that the dipping sauce container is more than 3 oz, Liz wolfs down her sandwich, declaring through a mouthful of food “I can have it all!”
If there’s a sandwich out there that’s more delicious than Jason Sudeikis, then obviously I needed to eat this sandwich. I was worried it was some sort of mythical TV creation, but thanks to my friend The Internet, I learned that the sandwich in the show was in fact based on a real life sandwich, though the place was located in New Jersey, not Brooklyn. I wanted to go to there.
Unfortunately, when you’re in New York, as I somewhat often am, it’s really difficult to convince people to go to New Jersey. “But it’s for a sandwich,” you say. “There are sandwiches in New York,” they reply. “This isn’t just any sandwich, this is the sandwich,” you clarify. “But it’s in New Jersey. You wanna get pizza instead?” They don’t get it. For this quest, I was going to need people who did get it, the only people in the world besides me who love food and TV as much as Liz Lemon and Kenneth Parcell. Yes, this quest required my parents, who were completely game for figuring out how to get to an obscure New Jersey sandwich shop in February.
The internet had provided me with a name and an address, now it was up to my parents and I to figure out how to get to Hoboken on public transit. This took some doing, as it turns out there are two entirely different train lines that go to New Jersey, and one of them is much more convenient than the other. Once there, it was something like a mile and a half of walking through the frigid streets to a storefront that was well off the beaten path.
When we arrived, the sandwiches were well worth the journey. Hand carved roast beef was layered with fresh mozzarella on top of crispy Italian bread. “Do you want sauce?” the guy at the counter asked. Of course we wanted sauce! Though I must say, while the dipping sauce might have been the star of the show on TV, the real highlight of this sandwich was the cheese. It was cheese I have not experienced before nor since: fresh, creamy, salty, almost fluffy mozzarella that just melted in your mouth.
Alas, the purveyor of this deliciousness was not so much a restaurant, nor even a deli, so much as an Italian food store that happened to sell sandwiches, and as such, there was no seating. So we took our sandwiches and headed back out into chilly Hoboken, where we triumphantly consumed our delicious sandwiches on a park bench. I might not have had career or family figured out, I might not even have had an indoor place to eat, but for that moment, I could sit in peace and eat my sandwich, and it certainly felt like I had it all.