I have a podcast now, and I got hit by a truck

The first order of business, addressed in the headline above, is that I am now co-hosting The Athletic’s Metrospective podcast with Tim Britton. Our first show went live yesterday on iTunes and Spotify and The Athletic itself, and probably wherever else you get podcasts. Please do check it out. Tim’s a smart and funny guy who knows a ton about the Mets, and I think it went very well for our first show together. I imagine it’ll only get better, and I’m excited to be opining about the Mets again in a public forum on a regular basis.

The second thing is that I was hit by a fucking truck this morning. True story. I’m OK. It wasn’t moving very fast.

Some background information: I am currently in the best shape of my life, and I’m not just saying that in the halfhearted way baseball writers say that about old retread dudes showing up fit to spring training. Tomorrow is my 40th birthday, and I’m going to enter my 40s weighing less than I did entering high school. BMI is generally a pretty stupid metric, but by its standards I am almost certain I registered as either overweight or obese for more or less the entirety of my life until the start of December. Now I’m just -weight, I guess. It’s wild, I’m sure it won’t last, and I hope this stupid pandemic ends soon so more people can see how hot I am.

The full story of how I got here is a complicated topic for some indeterminate later date, but one component of it is that in June, after gaining roughly 15 pounds in the early part of the pandemic, I started running. I hate running.

It began as a strategic decision. The first time I took my kid out for a bike ride in the spring, he decided — after seeming perfectly happy in his bike seat for the prior two biking-seasons — that riding in the bike seat was in fact blood-curdlingly terrifying and that he would not willingly do it moving forward. I knew I needed to be getting more exercise, we had a jogging stroller, and even if running doesn’t open up the city quite the way biking does, it at least opened up parts of Central Park we’d otherwise never get to.

Then it snowballed on me, and I started running without the jogging stroller, and now, six months later, I am a guy who owns multiple pairs of running tights. I still hate running, but increasingly I find I am able to spend as much as half of each jog thinking about stuff other than how much I hate running. When I started, I struggled to run a mile without stopping. This past Monday morning I felt especially sprightly and tacked an extra 1.5 miles on to my normal 6.5-mile route for an even eight. I ran further that morning, I am certain, than I did in sum in the entire two-decade span from June of 2000 to June of 2020.

I mention all that because of my ongoing pattern, previously detailed here, of enjoying long stretches of steady fitness improvements before traumatic injuries or life events compel me to balloon back up. This particular stretch has lasted long enough and been successful enough that I am clearly overdue for injury, so at this point pretty much every time I go out for a run I expect it will be the day I blow out my Achilles.

You know what I didn’t expect? Getting hit by a fucking truck.

I don’t run every day but I am in full-on Mr. Fitness Bro mode right now, so on days I don’t run, I walk a long route down the East River, stopping at various places to stretch and do bodyweight exercises. Around 6:15 this morning, at an adult exercise area inside a park in my neighborhood, I opted to do part of my workout facing the river on a rubberized surface that exists for just such purposes. It was all very zen, until I got hit by the truck.

Maybe the podcast I was streaming about the history of science fiction was especially riveting, because I did not hear the truck enter that area of the park, and I certainly didn’t hear it come up behind me. As I was midway through a set of wide-grip push-ups, really trying to focus on my form to best engage my muscles, I sensed a light from behind me and, without really thinking about it, took it for an e-bike. Then I sensed it coming closer, turned over my shoulder to give this e-cyclist the business for biking so close to me, and saw instead the front wheel of the truck that was about to hit me.

Something on the front of the truck caught me on the lower back and pushed me forward, driving me into the ground. I yelled, “STOP!” what felt like a million times, but it did not immediately stop. Somehow I turned myself onto my back and was trying to shimmy my way out on my elbows, all the while yelling. The truck was turning and the wheel was, or at least felt like it was, maybe a foot from my head when it finally stopped.

I scampered out from under it, very eloquently yelling, “HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!” I saw that it was a NYC parks department pickup truck, which at least explained what it was doing there. I got to a place from which I could yell at the driver, looked at him, and yelled, “HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!” I imagine you understand.

Then here’s the bonkers part: He was a dick about it!

Despite having hit me with a fucking truck, the driver acted aggrieved, all, “Why were you laying there?” He did ask if I was OK, to his credit, and I assume both dudes in the truck were themselves a bit scared and shaken up by it, but basically they accused me of recklessness for exercising in the portion of the open, public park that is very clearly set aside for people to exercise in.

They didn’t really relent at all until I shouted, “why are you yelling at me? You just hit me with a fucking truck!”

I picked up my phone, which had fallen out of my pocket when I got hit by the truck, and made my way over the passenger side. Even though both guys kept noting that they come through that way all the time — which really doesn’t make any sense as an argument for why it’s not their fault, seeing as there are often people exercising in the area — the passenger-side dude was decidedly the peacemaker of the two, and he asked again if I was OK. I told him that I thought I was but I wasn’t sure because my adrenaline was high, and that I had to take pictures of the truck. They were fine with that, then they drove off.

I sat on a bench for a while catching my breath, thinking about how close I had come to dying, and also thinking about how close I had come to crapping my own pants. Thankfully it did not happen — insult to injury, etc. — but there was definitely some rumbling from below.

Since I’m sharing personal details, I’ll also say that I tend toward passivity and indifference, and I am generally so reluctant to inconvenience people that I fear I am something of a pushover. I don’t think I necessarily present myself as a pushover, it’s just that pushing back seems like a lot of effort, and most of the time I’m just all, “whatever, push me over,” without considering that getting pushed over might suck, especially if the thing doing the pushing is, say, a fucking truck.

So by the time I talked about it with a friend on the phone, my ire was fully up. I told him about how I wasn’t going to be such a pushover anymore, and how the new, hotter, 40-year-old Ted 2.0 isn’t going to take getting hit by a truck lying down. Because fuck that, right? I am here, paying taxes, riding out this bullshit in New York City, throwing socially distanced elbows at the supermarket to try to get paper towels, facing constant fear and neverending protocol, raising two kids, trying to make the best of it by exercising in the portion of the public park that is clearly set up for that purpose, and this is the thanks I get? Hit by a city vehicle, and a driver who’s going to be an asshole about it? No. I will not stand for it. No! Fuck yourself, de Blasio.

I called 311 and got the number for the comptroller’s office, because I guess handling such claims is something a comptroller does. I contacted my (very worried) parents and asked them to come watch my kids while I went to the urgent care clinic to get the bruises on my back, leg and arm checked out.

Then, while sitting in the exam room texting everyone I could think of, my outrage turned into a sort of giddiness, and I found myself delighting in the absurdity of it. I got hit by a truck today. And while it was perhaps the scariest bit of physical trauma I ever endured — I really can’t stress how close I came to getting fully rolled over by a truck — it was at least not the most injurious.

Live and let mock

man sitting on red ground

Photo by Nizam Abdul Latheef on Pexels.com

My neighbors to the east keep having get-togethers. I don’t entirely know what to make of it, but they’re extremely friendly people and I can’t imagine they intend to be aggressive. From the sounds of it, they’re not throwing ragers — just having a couple or a few friends over to their backyard — and there’s definitely enough room there for five or six people to spread out. But it strikes me as inconsiderate, because these neighbors live in a 10-unit building, and the people coming over are undoubtedly touching doorbells and doorknobs and just generally breathing all over shared spaces.

But it’s not my building, so it doesn’t feel like my place to call them out on it. I recognize that what they’re doing could bring harm to someone else, but this is not the Kitty Genovese murder. They’re sharing their outdoor space with people who presumably don’t have any, which is a nice thing to do for friends. Like I said, they’re nice. And since I don’t think they’re putting me at any significant additional risk of getting the ‘rona, it ultimately feels like none of my business.

I understand if you feel otherwise, but when you live in an environment as densely populated as this one, you kind of have to default to living and letting live. There are exceptions, of course, but this one’s not getting me there. I’m not going to say anything to these people now because I don’t want them acknowledging if I do some dumb, dangerous shit in my backyard later. I have a charcoal barbecue, so I do play with fire.

But yesterday while I was out for a walk, these same neighbors were sitting on their front stoop chatting with a few of their friends, including one unmasked man blocking the sidewalk I needed to use to get home. And though I had never seen him before, I knew just from looking at the dude that it had to be Sports Hot Take Guy, a loud and frequent guest in the neighbors’ backyard whom I can’t help but overhear drooling out stale WFAN talking points, trite and bro-ey political observations, and the occasional personal story intended to be funny that is actually, when you think about it, pretty sad.

Sure enough, as I waved hello to my neighbors and tangoed around the guy who was obviously Sports Hot Take Guy, I heard his unmistakable voice in the midst of a rant about how some people’s belligerently pro-mask behavior was responsible for “all the fistfights” that are apparently now happening in my neighborhood, sight unseen.

I scurried past and didn’t say anything, but when I think about the line between what my neighbors do by having guests over and what type of behavior actually merits interference, I’m going to say that planting yourself in the middle of a narrow sidewalk with no mask on while complaining about “the mask police” — his words — is probably a bridge too far right now. It’s an aggressive move. Even if he absolutely does not believe he risks getting himself or anyone else sick by standing there, he clearly knows that many people at this particular juncture of history are bothered by bare-faced bros posturing on the sidewalk, and he’s doing it anyway. Now you’re starting some shit.

I know there’s plenty of anti-scientific, anti-mask, anti-distancing sentiment out there in general, so I assume other people are doing stuff like this elsewhere. And the best solution I can come up with is that we all just agree that’s it’s acceptable and encouraged to vigorously mock these people to their faces.

Right? I’m not about to, like, fight this guy if I see him at it again, in large part because I’m not trying to touch strangers right now. But I might stop to let him know that his actions imply that I should ignore the recommendations of the C.D.C. and World Health Organizations to abide those of a person idiotic enough to think Odell Beckham Jr. was a locker-room cancer who hurt the Giants. And I might throw in that somehow his face is even dumber than his appreciation for George Steinbrenner, and ask if he entered epidemiology after he got rejected for an internship at Barstool Sports. On and on like that.

Maybe he’d punch me, and so — what with the no-touching thing — maybe it’s a bad idea. But I’m going to fantasize about it, at least. To hell with Sports Hot Take Guy.

Friday Q&A: Robots, foodstuff, quaran-time

Less talk, more rock. Via email, Steven writes:

Now that the Rakuten Monkeys of the Taiwanese Baseball League have bought hundreds of robots to dress as fans when they begin the 2020 season, will this be the setting of the first robot rebellion, with them storming the field and killing the players?

OK, so I’ve seen a bunch of clips of Rakuten games, and for the most part it seems like the robots in the stands are more mannequins than anything else. I don’t understand how the droids improve the baseball experience for anyone playing or watching unless it so happens they’re into extraordinarily creepy things — and more power to ’em — but these robots also don’t seem at all like the type of robots we need to worry about moving on humanity.


In any case, I feel that a baseball game is actually the safest place to allow robots to congregate. They will be lured in by its angles and its numbers and its logic, then tortured by its general senselessness, and either their circuit-boards will fry the first time they see the Taiwanese Joe McEwing go deep off the Taiwanese Randy Johnson, or they’ll be so entertained that their batteries run out before they get around to enacting the Singularity. All the smartest people I know chose to watch a lot of baseball instead of trying to take over the world.

On that topic:

I think, if it happens, it’ll be awfully weird. I’ve only seen highlights from the CPBL games, but I suspect they’re very weird. I remember watching when the Orioles played in front of an empty stadium during the Freddie Gray protests and thinking that it seemed extremely weird.

This is why I’ve suggested surrounding the playing fields with green-screens and staging the games against bizarre and hilarious backdrops, like, top of my head, outer space, underwater, an Old West desert scene, or the Himalayas. Heck, it wouldn’t even have to be so literal. Look, the Dodgers are playing the Padres inside Monet’s Water Lilies. Stare at the magic-eye backdrop of this Marlins game long enough and a real baseball team pops out. If it’s going to be weird, you might as well go full weird.

All that said, I’d happily tune into games in empty stadiums every night if and when that proves a safe way to bring baseball to 2020. The presence of baseball means I don’t have to figure out what to watch on TV, and right now I’m struggling with that. I know there’s plenty of great stuff I could be binge-watching, but it’s like I’ve gotten so bored that I no longer know how to handle boredom. Usually boredom is the exception, now it’s the baseline.

Pretzels. But you’re asking the wrong guy. I think I have about a lifetime .200 batting average at getting yeast to work.

I did play football! I loved it. I coached football, too, and loved that too. And I loved watching football for a very long time, until a couple of things happened:

1) I started spending the entirety of my Octobers on the road covering baseball, meaning that I’d come home after having spent some 30-40 consecutive days working and watching sports, the Jets would already be out of contention, and I just didn’t find myself in the mood to figure out what was happening in the NFL and start watching more sports.

And, mainly, 2) We learned that professional football somewhat regularly scrambles players’ brains, and that the NFL either actively covered up that information or at the very least put on some incredibly large blinders to avoid acknowledging it.

I try not to be too holier-than-thou about not watching football anymore because I understand that it’s exciting and because I recognize that millions and millions of people still very much enjoy it in spite of having seen and read all the same things I’ve seen and read about CTE. But I’ll say that having Sundays free turns out to be pretty amazing, and it turns out I can find other excuses to eat Buffalo wings.

Also, I find the NFL Draft especially frustrating for a variety of reasons, and don’t think it’s compelling television. Down with sports drafts!

I am vaguely interested in seeing what the inside of Mel Kiper Jr.’s house looks like, which presumably viewers of this year’s NFL Draft will get to do. But I’m forgoing that opportunity because the same night of this year’s NFL Draft — Thursday, April 23, or a week from yesterday — I’m hosting the online version of the bar baseball trivia I was doing monthly until all bars closed.

It was probably not the best idea to schedule it against the only sporting event in months, but the NFL Draft is not actually a sporting event.

quadaquiz.sketchpad (3)

If you’re reading this, you should play. Sign up here.

At times when I am not quarantined, I am actually terrible at this. I generally have pasta, butter and parmesan cheese on hand, and that’s kind of a meal, but it’s not a very good one. We almost always have yogurt and granola, and that’s a solid breakfast. Living across the street from a supermarket allows me to be pretty irresponsible about keeping food stocked.

So instead of an actual answer, I’ll share my go-to quick meal when I need to make a fairly fast, delicious, inexpensive dinner (and then some — it always feeds my family at least twice). You will need:

  • One box of pasta, preferably something like rigatoni or fusilli
  • One pound spicy Italian sausage with the casings removed
  • A large head of broccoli
  • Four cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. In one pot, boil some salted water for pasta. When it’s boiling, add pasta.
  2. Set another, larger pot over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom, garlic and sausage meat, stirring occasionally to brown all the meat.
  3. After the pasta’s been cooking for a few minutes, throw in the broccoli. You can use a separate pot for the broccoli if you want, but then you have an extra dirty dish to deal with. Screw that. Just use the pasta pot.
  4. When the pasta and broccoli are cooked, drain them, then dump them into the pot with the sausage and lower the heat.
  5. Stir so the olive oil and delicious orange sausage grease coat the pasta. If the pasta looks dry, add a little more olive oil.
  6. Mix in about 2 ounces of Parmesan cheese. Two ounces is an estimate based on looking up the standard size container of Parmesan cheese, which turns out to be 5 ounces. I use a little less than half of that.
  7. Give it a healthy hit of black pepper.

Sprinkle some extra parmesan cheese on top to serve. It’s very good, and you can feed six people for like nine bucks.

Via Twitter, Kevin (who has a private account) asks:

What is the ideal age and living situation for this whole shitshow shut down?

I got at this a little bit a couple weeks ago, but I think it’s something that a lot of people are thinking about it. And I think a lot of people are thinking about it because everyone’s certain their own shutdown situation is something far less than ideal.

And I suspect, to a lot of people, my own situation for the shutdown might seem somewhat optimal: I don’t have a job so I don’t have to worry about working from home, and I was already out of the job long before this started, so I’m not stressing about the loss of income. My wife’s job is pandemic-proof, my apartment has a backyard, I’ve only got one kid and he’s too young for proper school so I don’t have to worry about home-schooling him in calculus or whatever. But still I keep finding myself like, “ugh this sucks, this would be so much easier if…”

Obviously the ideal circumstance for any situation is “eccentric billionaire,” but assuming that’s not an option, my first instinct was to say: Middle school. Remember how much middle school sucked? God, it’d be great to get out of middle school. But wait! You’re not just getting out of middle school to play sports with your friends and flirt with classmates you run into at the movie theater. You’re getting out of middle school to do nothing at all besides stare at various screens, and that sounds largely unsatisfying.

High-schoolers tend to think anything bad that happens to them is the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone, so high school is out. College kids have had their minds warped by people telling them “these are the best four years of your life,” which isn’t at all true but puts them under all sorts of pressure to make the most of those four years, so that’s out too.

I’d say, of all the living situations I’ve ever seen up close, the best for riding out a quarantine would be one that belonged to a friend of mine in Brooklyn when we were in our mid-20s. He lived in a huge apartment with four other dudes and all of them were musically or creatively inclined, so I imagine they could’ve rode out a hypothetical quarantine just jamming and making music and broing down, and there were enough other people around that you wouldn’t get sick of each other. But then, in retrospect, I can’t remember what any of those guys did for work, or whether they’d still be able to cover the rent in circumstances like this one.

I think this pretty much sucks for everyone except profiteering politicians. It obviously sucks way, way more for some people than for others, but I don’t know that anyone reasonable is satisfied with the terms under which they have to stay inside all the time.

Make it up as we go along

man in white shirt and black pants sitting on bench holding an ipad

Stock-photo tablet and overalls man, for no reason whatsoever. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com)

This morning, while I pedaled up the 1st Ave. bike lane, I felt on the cusp of making some brilliant connection between one of the things I love about baseball and one of things I find most frustrating about the coronavirus shutdown. Then, with no inciting incident whatsoever, I went flying over my handlebars.

Don’t freak out, Mom: I’m fine. I was wearing a helmet, and playing football for my entire youth taught me how to tuck in all my body parts when I fall. I have some scrapes and bruises and it kind of looks like I got punched in the nose, but mostly I’m just stunned that it happened.

I’ve been on a bike at least 3,000 times in my life, easily. I’ve been doored. I’ve been clipped by cars. I’ve fallen off to the side while avoiding hazards, and I’ve tumbled over when my wheel got caught in a trolley rut. But the first time I’ve ever flipped over my handlebars was this morning, on a day when seeking medical attention for anything but the gravest of illnesses makes you an a-hole, while the roads were close to empty, in a spot where I’ve biked hundreds of times before.

And I wasn’t biking recklessly! Best I can figure, if anything besides total randomness caused it to happen today, it was that I was riding my wife’s bike because my own has a flat (the ‘rona has prevented me from getting it fixed), and it’s balanced a bit differently than mine. Also, maybe, I got lulled into a false sense of security by how few cars and pedestrians and other cyclists are around. I felt like a damn fool, either way. Still do. I’m going to be more careful next time.

That’s an excuse for my inability to better connect the following two facts, which I know to be related somehow:

1) There are obviously different levels at which the coronavirus sucks, and I still don’t want to complain too much while me and my loved ones are all (knocking wood) healthy. But one of the things I find most frustrating about the shutdown is the lack of a clear end date.

I recognize that the nature of such things is that we will not and should not get a clear end date until it’s nearly upon us, so I’m not asserting that someone should give us some official quarantine release day before science can offer one. I’m just saying, I think this would be a lot easier to bear if I could know exactly when I can do stuff again.

Think about it this way: For some reason, you are put in charge of the coronavirus — possibly because A-Rod turned down the job. And Ron Science, unimpeachable King of Science, tells you that you have two options:  A) You could let this all play out — keep everything closed, maintain social distancing, etc — to see what happens and maintain hope, without certainty, that the virus runs its course or has some sort of cure by early June. Or B) You can agree to keep everything shut down until exactly July 16, at which point you can safely go outside.

I’d definitely choose B. If I knew precisely how long this was going to last, I could better map out how to spend this time, and I’d have something to look forward to when it’s over. Part of what makes having to stay inside all the time and avoid human interaction so harrowing is not having any idea how long it has to last.

0_ZfzG-e5kmxLPR_lT2) I have very little interest in watching sporting events when I know the outcome. I DVR every Georgetown basketball game so I can start watching a little late and fast-forward through commercials, but if I see a phone notification with a score update, I always wind up advancing until the score is the one I just saw.

Same thing with baseball. I think a big part of sports’ appeal to me is that they’re unscripted; no one knows what’s going to happen, and then you watch it unfold at the arena or in the stadium or on your television. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it’s thrilling and sometimes it’s anti-climactic, but it’s always spontaneous and urgent.

I don’t begrudge people their right to enjoy baseball however they want to enjoy baseball, and I certainly understand why MLB Network and SNY and other outlets in the business of broadcasting baseball games might re-air “classic” games for as long as there are no new ones.

But I’m sure that if someone gave me the choice between rewatching Game 5 of the 2017 World Series — maybe the best and wildest game I’ve ever seen — or checking out some random, hard-fought Twins-Tigers tilt from June, 2009, I’d choose the latter unless the person spoiled the final score or told me why it was worth watching. It might take some mental gymnastics to convince myself it was happening live, especially once I saw Nick Punto, but at the very least it’d be new to me.

The connection between points 1 and 2, I think, goes back to the thing I once wrote about baseball serving as an orderly plane to help us sort out our real-life trials. Not knowing what’s going to happen makes baseball incredible. Not knowing what’s going to happen next makes real life agonizing.

Here’s a poll:


Sandwich of the Week!


Sandwich of the Week is going to be homemade-sandwich heavy for the run of the TedQuarters revival. I want to support my local sandwich institutions, of course, and perhaps I’ll review some of them in this space, but I’m also trying to do the responsible thing and stay inside as much as possible.

People often give me spices and condiments as gifts, which I appreciate. I can and sometimes do make my own barbecue rub, but the gift of barbecue rub is one I’m always going to use eventually, which is more than I can say for dress slacks.

I haven’t exactly mapped out this site’s Operation Shutdown content, but I assume a lot of the food I prepare and write about here will include random ingredients I already had in my kitchen, as this seems like a good opportunity to use some of them up. That may make it difficult for you to accurately recreate these sandwiches at home. But it’s all jazz, baby. Seek not instructions here. Seek inspiration.

The sandwich: Roast beef, spinach and potato chips with club sauce on lightly toasted wheat bread.

The construction: I started with a rump roast I got from Crowd Cow, a reliably excellent source of meat that I’m going to endorse here because a) it’s a useful resource in these times and was actually available to deliver meat to me sooner than FreshDirect could, and b) we both get $25 credits if you sign up here with my referral code. Tacky, I know. But it’s not like I’m asking you to patreon me. We all get discounted meat out of this.

On the roast, I used a liberal sprinkling of Trader Joe’s coffee-garlic barbecue rub, which is delicious, and which I get as a gift frequently enough that I pretty much always have some around. Here’s how to approximate it if you don’t have access to it. Here’s the roast, with the rub, on the grill:


Hardcore grill heads might note that I’m cooking it over indirect heat with a chunk of oak thrown in with the charcoal. But again, don’t fret about the specifics. I’m sure you can roast a perfect rump in your oven if you don’t have a fancy barbecue.

The potato chips were Kettle-band Spicy Queso chips from a half-eaten bag I had in my kitchen. I wanted to put sliced cucumber on the sandwich, but opted for baby spinach when I opened the fridge and learned we had no cucumbers. For the sauce, I took a sweet red-pepper jelly of forgotten origin that was on my refrigerator door, then mixed it with mayo, a little yellow mustard for tang, and salt and pepper.

Mixing roughly one part jelly — any sort of jelly, really — with three parts mayo makes for a shockingly good sandwich topping. I got the idea from No. 7 Sub sandwich guru Tyler Kord’s A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches, which I wholeheartedly recommend. 

Important background information: I never spent a whole lot of time thinking about roast beef until I worked at the deli. We often had it around my house growing up — I’m pretty sure it’s my dad’s favorite lunchmeat — but it was never something I went out of my way to order.

But one regular customer at the deli forced a frequent consideration of roast beef. Her name was Gae. She owned the smoke shop around the corner, she never wanted anything at the deli besides roast beef, and she only wanted roast beef it was extremely rare.


We went through about one roast every three days, but she only ever wanted it — on a platter with gravy and french fries — if it could be sliced from the very middle of the roast. So instead of walking about 100 yards to survey the roast beef every day at noon, she’d call to check in. She had an incredible voice — a thick, sludgy New York accent with the gravelly growl of someone who not only smoked constantly but also spent most of her waking hours inside a small smoke-filled room. And she apparently had no time whatsoever for pleasantries.

“Hello, De Bono’s,” I’d say when I picked up the phone.

“IS IT RARE?” she’d ask. I knew to expect her call every day, so I always kept tabs on the roast beef.

“Hi, Gae. Yes, it’s rare.”


“Come on over, Gae. I’ll get it ready for you.”

Gae was right. Rare roast beef is the best and most flavorful form of that meat. And I’ve roasted beef of various cuts with plenty of success, but until last night, I never really nailed the interior rareness I was looking for.

I think some of it was that the roast was still frozen in the very center when I put it on the grill, and some of it was dumb luck: A drunk lady visiting my neighbor popped her head over the fence and started a conversation with me while I meant to be checking on the meat. The grill got to a way higher temperature than I wanted, and the first time I stuck the meat thermometer in, it was already at 125-degrees in the middle. The innermost parts of big cuts of meat continue gaining temperature for about 10 minutes after you pull them off the grill (there’s science to this), so I took it off right then, let it rest for a while, and cut it open to find the beautiful interior redness you can see in the photo above.

What it looks like:


How it tastes: Folks, I have made so many freaking sandwiches in my life. So many. Tens of thousands, easily. This might have been the best.

And that’s both alarming and liberating, because it’s really not a sandwich I spent a whole lot of time planning. I had a rump roast I wanted to turn into roast beef. I had some potato chips and some spinach. I had a random half-eaten jar of red-pepper jelly in the fridge. I had bread. I made a sandwich.

But what a sandwich! The beef was juicy, tender, salty and meaty, and still warm from the grill. The potato chips added some spice and a powerful crunch, the sauce was sweet,  tangy and peppery. The spinach means it’s good for you.

The bread was a bit overmatched by the bulk of the sandwich and the juiciness of the beef, but it died a hero, for sure.

What it costs: $25 less than it would if you didn’t use my Crowd Cow referral code.

Hall of Fame? Yup.

We’re going to make it through this.