I know it must be blasphemy to some, like the way I don’t like chocolate (please don’t kill me), but I’ve never liked Meg Ryan, or any of her films for that matter. Not Sleepless in Seattle, not You’ve got Mail, and definitely not When Harry Met Sally. In fact, I’ve never even seen When Harry Met Sally, but I’m pretty much sure I won’t like it given my distaste for Billy Crystal and the Meg Ryan-genre of films. For me, she’s your average neighbourhood woman with mediocre looks and even more mediocre acting.
Hence I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself quoting When Harry Met Sally while trying to convince PJ to come to Katz’s Deli with me.
“Forget Shake Shack! (I did not feel like queuing in the rain in Madison Square Park that day) Katz’s Deli is so much cooler, it’s where Harry met Sally! (Did he? Or did they just eat here?)
PJ, obviously a Meg Ryan fan, was immediately bought. So we raced through the rain on the Lower East Side and into the crowded dining hall of Katz Deli - forever packed, forever busy, and it is so for a reason. Katz's is the oldest delicatessen in New York City (established 1888) and the only place in town that still carves all its pastrami and corned beef by hand (apparently it makes a huge difference, but I am not one to tell). I was told that the ritual of interacting with the countermen is one of the great New York experiences, but busily trying to battle the hordes of people looking for a table I gave this grandiose task to my friend PJ, who, with his history of chatting up strangers to the point where he was invited to an ice cream date at Serendipity with a mother and her young daughter (who were customers sitting at the next dinner table), took an instant liking to the countermen in front of him. He came back boasting about free pastrami he was given to try.
One table in the middle of the dining room bears an inconspicuous paper sign taped to its surface: "You are sitting at the table where Harry met Sally." In the background the security guard is doubling up as restaurant manager, handing out tickets and rounding people up into organized lines to ease congestion that is blocking the doorway. The pastrami sandwiches are tasting delicious, with cheese and onions oozing through the soft bread, and we are feeling very, very happy.