Smoking Salmon – Part Two
There is was. Right over the entrance to the delicatessen/imported tobacco shop. A trophy mounted fish with a lit cigar. Actually, it was supposed to resemble a lit cigar, but it was just a plastic piece that glowed on the end like a lit cigar. Jeannie couldn’t stop laughing. I kept staring at it while trying to form coherent sentences.
Our day of self-indulgence had started out on not-too-good footing between making our local eatery’s waitress drop a tray full of dishes and then getting lost in Austin for lack of a updated map and no GPS. So we decided to let the fates decide and just drive aimlessly until we found something of interest.
This was it. On an old strip mall, about a mile and a half from the state capitol building, were a series of eclectic shops, two restaurants, one delicatessen, and a donut shop. There was also a book store, a western wear store, and an ‘adult’ store that made Jeannie blush every time I pointed it out to her.
Back to the cigar smoking fish. The Smoking Salmon Delicatessen and Cigar Shop piqued our curiosity and we had to check it out. After executing a remarkable U-turn that allowed me to pull into a parking space a few feet from the front door of the place, we stood outside and studied the inside of the store through the glass windows. That was hard to do since there were signs and drawings that advertised their specials and genuine authentic Cuban-like cigars.
We went inside. The atmosphere was old New York deli styled with a corner of the place decked out in shelf after shelf of pipes, loose tobacco, and Cuban-like cigars. We checked that out first. Not that we intended to smoke, but it was such an anomaly to see these two types of products under the same roof.
It turns out that the Cuban-like cigars were not from Cuba. Or the U.S. I had no idea that China was one of the one hundred twenty-eight countries that produce tobacco. But there, on the cigar band was “Made in China”.
We began to wonder what other surprises were in store for us and wandered back over to the deli part of the delicatessen to have a look. There were kosher-like gefilte fish, artificially smoked salmon—how one artificially smokes salmon is beyond me, and dairy free cream cheese. I got the attention of the woman behind the counter and pointed to the sign in the window that touted, “Authentic Kosher Delicatessen.”
“Oh,” she answered, “We picked that up when Reuben’s Deli closed last year.”
I was flummoxed. Jeannie only laughed. We’d had our share of kosher foods when we lived in California when we would visit the homes of some of our parents’ business associates. None of this stuff was even close. Not one to waste an opportunity for a good dare, Jeannie goaded me into trying some artificially smoked salmon, dairy free cucumber cream cheese, and a Pad Thai bagel. Considering everything, it wasn’t too bad. I held it down for at least nine minutes.