Words and Photograph by Amelia Heymann
West Broad Street is home to Nick’s International Foods. It’s a small, locally owned grocery store and deli filled with specialty European and Mediterranean ingredients and products not easily found in most grocery stores.
Of course the main attraction is the deli. Freshly sliced meat on their made-to-order sandwiches makes this a popular, local lunch spot. It’s raved about from anyone who’s ever eaten there, so I decided to give it a shot.
It was around 1:00pm on a Tuesday when I entered the Nick’s International Foods, still the active lunch hour of the weekday. I was greeted with a cheerful “Welcome” by the cashier as I walked inside.
I took a moment to take in all of the prepackaged food they had around the grocery store. The space was small, but packed to the brim with packages of premade food. Most of the food was typical American items and brands, like candy bars and chips. They also carry specialty items one usually can not find at grocery stores like Kroger. There were tubs of feta cheese, boxes of Turkish delight and jars of sauerkraut amongst many other things. I made a mental note to come back some time to look for groceries.
Separated from the rest of the store by a thin white wall is the deli. Above the counter hangs a large menu with sandwiches ranging from a simple Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato to the classic Greek Gyro.
As I waited in line to order, the man behind the deli counter talked to the others in line, establishing them as regulars. I was pleasantly optimistic at this point about whatever I was about to order. Everyone here seemed to know the food was good, and I had been suggested this place by a few friends.
When I walked up to the counter, I asked the man working there what he liked off the menu. He said “I like everything on the menu because I get it for free.” I could only reply “True enough” as I rushed to pick something quickly.
I decided to go with Number 13 on the menu, a “Sopressaa Mortadella Prosciutto” sandwich, toasted on wheat bread with everything on it. This was a decision I would later come to regret.
After a few minutes of waiting for my sandwich to be made, the lunch item was handed to me wrapped in wax paper with a few napkins under it. I walked up to the cashier to pay for my sandwich. “That’s a big sandwich for such a small girl.” The cashier noted amused. I assured him I would finish it all as he rang me up. I was too confident for my own good. Since there’s nowhere to really sit in the deli I took it back to my dorm to eat on my bed.
Once reaching my dorm I hurried into my room and closed the door so I could consume my sandwich like a pig without worrying about my roommates walking in on me. Unwrapping the sandwich I could only stare. This was one of those moments when ordering something off the menus you’d never heard of before ended up seeming like not such a wonderful idea.
Between the two slices of toasted wheat bread was basically a pile of meat. I then realized that this sandwich was named after all the meat inside of it. I didn’t know what kind of meat, but it was cold cut and there was a lot of it.
I took my first bite and realized the meats actually had different textures from each other. While two of the meats were easy to bite through, one was more fatty and chewy in texture. It took more force to break it apart from the sandwich, and i had to spend extra time chewing it.
Slowly over time I became a greasy disheveled mess trying to get through my lunch. Mayonnaise dripped down my chin and onto my sheets as I attempted to finish this sandwich. There was meat. So much meat. I wish past me had been more conservative and just had gotten the BLT. I had made my choice though, and present me was determined to defeat this sandwich. I told the cashier I could get through it, and I would.
I continued to tear through layers of rich meat and soft bread for what seemed like days. Eventually I finally reached the end of this meat filled monster. Upon this realization I could only sigh. It was over. I had won.
Chugging down my diet cherry Pepsi, I then belched proudly in victory. Victory was not sweet though, as the feeling of my stomach asking me “What have you done?” began to settle in. Laying down in my filth of used napkins and spilt lettuce, I proceeded to take a three hour long nap.
Upon awakening from my slumber, I could only roll over to my phone to text about my experience. My friends who had eaten at Nick’s before were all very shocked, saying they loved whatever they got from there. I don’t doubt that, I probably just ordered something off the menu that was too much for me. I want to go back again and order something a little smaller. Perhaps that BLT that slipped through my fingers, or a loving roast beef sandwich.
Nick’s International Foods and Deli is a small place with a lot to offer. It has a loyal following that says a lot about the quality of its food. I consider my experience a misadventure, and an outlier compared to what everyone else seems to experience. I suggest that you try out Nick’s for yourself, and probably don’t order the Sopressaa Mortadella Prosciutto, unless you’re ready for the challenge.