The Great Connecticut Chopped Liver Quest
Definition of “birthright” (courtesy Merriam-Webster dictionary): a right that you have because you were born into a particular position, family, place, etc.
Well, okay, I was born into a Jewish family and I, therefore, consider noshing on chopped liver — be it sandwich, appetizer or full-scale platter — to be my birthright.
So it seemed anyway … until my husband and I moved to Mystic, Connecticut, three-plus years ago. Before that, I had lived in places where getting a good gehakte leber sandwich was as easy as grabbing a Starbucks latte. I’m talking Miami Beach, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Montclair “12 miles west of The City,” New Jersey.
Once ensconced in Mystic, I assumed that corned beef and latkes and chopped liver would be, if not as common as lobster rolls, at least an easy drive away, given the number of former New Yorkers who’ve settled here.
And so began the quest. Big Y Supermarket (in Groton), nope. McQuades Market (Mystic and nearby Westerly, R.I.), uhn-uh. Mystic Gourmet Market (two of these), negative, negative. North End Deli (Groton), nah.
But, wait (as they say in those TV advertorials that offer to double your order if you CALL RIGHT AWAY) … surely a Google search (chopped liver + Mystic) will direct me. Wrong again. It turned up the following:
1) one recipe for chopped liver 2) one recipe for mock chopped liver 3) one restaurant boasting its chopped salad 4) one first-person account by a tourist lamenting her inability to find chopped liver while on vacation in Mystic
All of which culminated in my launching an e-mail order to Russ & Daughters on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The order was placed on March 22. A 12-digit FedEx tracking number followed. On March 25 came the much-anticipated e-mail from Goldbely (“We work with America’s best food purveyors to ship their legendary handmade dishes nationwide”), announcing: “Your order is on a delivery truck and should be delivered today.”
And so it was: The shipping cost ($35) was nearly triple the cost of a pound of chopped liver ($11.98). Not that I’m complaining. No, no, no. That pricey delivery contained exactly what I’d been craving. I gobbled down chopped liver for three straight days and enjoyed every bite. No help from my husband, who is not a chopped liver maven. He hails from Milwaukee, making bratwurst, canned spinach, white bread and Spaghettios his birthright foods.
Months have passed since my three-day chopped liver epicurean extravaganza and I am pleased to report that hope springs anew:
A new acquaintance, a restaurant reviewer in the area, informed us that the Foxwoods Resort Casino complex, a mere 8.5 miles from our home, includes a Junior’s Restaurant that boasts not only its “famous cheesecake” but also the authentic chopped liver enjoyed by authentic New Yorkers.
And a magazine editor in Norwich, Connecticut, for whom we often freelance, just clued us into Rein’s Deli — “Centrally located between New York, Boston and Heaven” – in Vernon, Connecticut. At 70 miles distant, it’s rather more of a schlep but its online menu promises to make it worth the mileage.
We’ve even heard rumors that a ShopRite in neighboring New London carries chopped liver. On Tuesdays.
I will, in time, check them all out. Meanwhile, I express sincerest gratitude to my trio of gustatory informers. And to any ambitious deli entrepreneur, I say: Mach Shnel to Mystic!