Pretty good sandwiches. Questions of relativity and quantum theory

The other day I went to meet the charming Ms. Weow at the new Dean & Deluca coffeeshop, a glitzy branch of the New York deli in what’s to be the ground floor of the Ritz Carleton Residences, still under construction.

On my way over, I phoned her to check that I had the correct location.

“Right at the Chong Nongsri BTS Station,” she said.

“West side or east?”

“Which way are you facing now?” she asked me.

“What do you mean?”

“I have to know which way you’re facing, or I don’t know which side to tell you it’s on.”

Suddenly I knew how Werner Heisenberg felt when he began to understand just how peculiar the universe really was, at least at the sub-atomic level. (See, e.g., Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science.) My mind reeled, though that might have been hunger—she’d told me the food was really good, and it was big, which is always good.

Dealing with quantum phenomena at the macro level—normally the province of mere Newtonian physics, or maybe relativity theory in a pinch—can be disconcerting. And there I stood, my personal orientation at that moment determining where the sun had risen that day, maybe even suggesting that, if I decided to keep turning from one side to the other, it could never set, that it would have to remain overhead forever.

Generally I’m not one to generalize in such matters, but in general Thais are not the dabbest hands you’ll ever encounter when it comes to verbal directions. And it didn’t help, after we finally met up, when I tried to elaborate on the situation in quantum-relativistic terms. Ms. Weow just got impatient with me: “So why didn’t you say left side or right side, then?”

“Hey,” I said, hardly waving my arms around at all. “I was trying to keep things simple. I wanted to know where the coffeeshop was, independently of which way you or I happened to be pointing.”

“But you’d have had to know which way was north, then, wouldn’t you? And south.”

True enough. Each of us would have to have known this, independently of which way either or both of us were pointed. Indeed East is East, after all, and West is West. Sort of. Depending. Unless the Uncertainty Principle kicks in.

Dean & Deluca supplies great coffee, great sweets, excellent salads and only pretty good sandwiches. What’s missing is the occasional hot-chili kick in the pants; you could fall asleep while ingesting one of their avocado-and-goat cheese sandwiches. They use first-rate ingredients and all, and good bread for Thailand, but the results are a tad colorless. Maybe the hi-so palate isn’t as robust as that of your average man in the Bangkok street.

The pastrami sandwich is good, but in Bangkok true aficionados must visit New York Cheesecake. Another oasis for those starved for genuine U.S.-style sandwiches is the BBQ Sandwich King, which isn’t too far from the “new” Immigration offices. And if you’re really, really hungry you might try the 1lb.-pattie Fat Bastard at Woodstock (the blackened Creole-style burger makes a good alternative if you aren’t actually starving to death).

Dean & Deluca also have some of the most expensive olive oil in the Eastern Hemisphere on their deli shelves, not to mention other rare specialties.

“One is taught to give up immediate pleasures for the sake of a future which only too often fails to compensate for the pleasures one has renounced. Thus rationality does not always seem as rational as it claims to be.” (from The Stars Down to Earth, Theodor Adorno, at his least obscure, effectively recommending a Fat Bastard)

NY Cheesecake pastrami sandwich image from “Hungry in Bangkok.”


2 thoughts on “Pretty good sandwiches. Questions of relativity and quantum theory

  1. Ahhh I see, it was the New School for Sandwich Research! Now I get it, and that explains a great deal; i.e., the Horkheimer on Rye, and much more.

    Wait a minute, wasn’t it really the Frankfurter School?!? Man I been out of academia a long time!!!

    Just gimme a Benjamin w/Bacon, hold the Adorno Poupon!

  2. Walter Benjamin: “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Case in point: McDonald’s mediocratization of the American Hamburger. Whole generations denied knowledge of real hamburgers, debased expectations always satisfied, never disappointed, never delighted. Munch, munch, much. A muchness of munching on the safely blah. The story of Our Time. I merely report signs of local rebellion. Though Dean & Deluca’s sandwich, if they want to wear their Che T-shirts credibly, need to introduce nice slivers, robust slices optional, of hot red chili pepper to at least some of their sandwiches.

    That’s enough revolution for this morning. It’s toast & peanut butter for me, by God, with green tea. The BBQ King, incidentally, is total master of the Frankfurter School. Culinarily the best thing that’s happened to Thailand in many a year.

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