In metro Boston, when you order a Reuben sandwich, they put it on something called "dark rye". "Dark rye" is a cruelly deceptive euphemism for pumpernickel. It is not rye bread. It has no caraway seeds. It is another thing entirely, and it has no business getting itself toasted and parading around in the broad light of day with grilled corned beef, melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on it.

There is a place in or near Kenmore Square, on Comm Ave two or three blocks towards downtown, where they will make you a decent Reuben on real bread. It's on the south side of the street, somewhat below street level. I don't recall the name, it might be something about wursts or something. I have found an honest and reasonable attempt at a Reuben nowhere else in the city, though I admit I haven't devoted myself entirely to looking.

When I ask waiters or waitresss for a Reuben, they get a sly, crafty, and mocking look in their eyes as they speak to me of "dark rye". They know the score. No one is fooled. We are enemies, but we pretend to be civil.



I have a theory about this. Once, many years ago, a Bostoner went to New York City and ordered clam chowder. He or she was served a strange variant of tomato soup. Shocked and bitterly resentful, this citizen went home and planned revenge. The "dark rye" deception was innaugurated.

Decades have passed and the rift has not been healed. With every Bostonian who visits New York, and with every New Yorker who visits Boston, the wounds are lightly salted. There is no chance of reconciliation. I, an innocent Pennsylvanian, am caught in the crossfire.

These two great cities are damned.

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