It comes at an interesting time that I post this… my Memoirs of Grease… my experience at my job working in a deli. I just got the news that I am being promoted to lead sandwich artisan or whatever, a title that has not existed in my whole time being here. I mean, I get a pay raise, but I have yet to learn if it will be worth it, here in this land of grease I call the deli.
I don’t mean this as an exaggeration either. Almost every surface is greasy to some extent. We wear gloves pretty much any time we’re around food, so we don’t really notice it, but between sets of gloves, I feel a glimpse of it. These memoirs will be a a detailing of each area, and its own brand of grease.
The sandwich bar is where I spend most of my time. It holds various types of grease. I open it in the morning to clean the layer of grease from the previous day that has worked its way in between and inside of the various pans that hold all the ingredients.
Starting from the middle is the cheese tray. Cheese cut to go on a sandwich can be brittle, and although it starts out in solid slices, going through it throughout the day causes some to fall apart, and you will end up with a big pan full of scraps hiding under the usable stuff.
I get fresh trays for pretty much everything because it keeps everything cleanly and looking good. We get these trays of avocado mush, easy for both spreading and smearing across various surfaces. This gets cleaned next. Veggies like lettuce, tomatoes and onions go next, but they’re nice, fresh, and just moist rather than greasy.
The far sides are grease hell. We have our tray of sauces, and the bottles are pretty much always slick with a thin layer of invisible grease. It makes them jump out of your hands sometimes. But the worst is to come. Last up is the Muffuletta, Artichoke Hearts, and Mozzarella, all in their own little corner. Mufuletta, or olive mix is a good part olive oil. Artichoke hearts and the fresh mozzarella sit in oil as well, for flavor and freshness. It also goes everywhere when you want to put it on a sandwich. This area gets cleaned extra well.
Meanwhile, we are open for business. So while I do this, fill up the other ingredients, roll up portions of meats, and generally prep,-an activity which goes throughout my shift- customers are free to come up and order. As my coworker said once, it is an exercise in being interrupted.