An Open Letter to the Meatball Parmigiana Sandwich from Amato’s

Dear Meatball Parmigiana Sandwich from Amato’s,

Can you believe it’s been almost three years since we met? I have to confess that it wasn’t exactly love at first sight, if I can even find it within myself to believe in such a thing anymore. When we first met, I was going through kind of a weird time in my life, and there you were, ready to fill the emptiness inside of me. I was living in Mexico, and would only return to the States for a week each Winter. And what whirlwind trips those were, filled with every manner of processed food and frozen wonders that I could cram into the tiny freezer in our rented condominium. The first night we met, I was dubious, but to be fair, I hadn’t really explored the width and breadth of the menu you came from. Oh, sure, I’d had my dalliances with the Amato’s “Original” Italian, and gone round-and-round with some of your bohemian cousins, like the amazing weekend I spent in the Catskills with the Spaghetti Calzone. But it was you, Meatball Parmigiana Sandwich from Amato’s, it was you that would ultimately win my heart.

Amato's Meatball Parm

At first, I just didn’t understand what you were about. I’ll never forget how I felt the first time I held you in my hands, felt your weight and heat bleeding through your tinfoil wrapper. A few minutes on a conveyor-style oven will do that to a sandwich, though, won’t it? Even today, writing this letter, I remember the rush I felt the first time I peeled the waxy, translucent paper off the layer of provolone and mozzarella cheese melted onto your surface, a protective cheesy barrier that served to protect the both of us from the oddly sweet, molten tomato sauce that lay underneath, a sauce that was only too eager to leap forth from your bun and soil my favorite sweatshirt.

But oh, you weren’t without your faults, were you? Meatball Parmigiana Sandwich from Amato’s, you’ve never been shy about pointing out my shortcomings, and for once, I am going to respond. I’m sorry that it has to be in a letter, but you know what it’s like when we get together in person. I’m just worried that all those old feelings are going to come rushing back, and I want to, for once, be honest. Honest with you, and maybe for once, honest even with myself.

Happier times.

Like for one? I’ve noticed that you only contain two meatballs. Did you think that if you had them cut in half, that I wouldn’t notice? Where I come from, they call that “false advertising,” Meatball Parmigiana Sandwich from Amato’s. And that shellacking of cheese you have up top? You can’t tell me that’s anything more than a salt layer, which may be melted the moment you come hot out of the oven, but I’ll tell you something: it quickly solidifies into a rubbery crust. Oh, and I know I said I would never mention your soft bun again (a genetic gift from your mother, no doubt), but it just doesn’t work for you in this case, turning from pleasantly plump to squishy and disintegrated before I even finish ravaging the first half of you.

How is it, then, that with all your faults, my attraction only grew stronger? As the years went by, my love for you only grew. Before long, we would meet for 6 minute-long trysts standing over the sink in my kitchen, or if we just couldn’t control ourselves, sitting in the front seat of my car. It didn’t take long for that first initial spark to turn into a full-blown romance, and before long, I was hungrily gobbling your grey, school lunch-style mushy meatballs as many as two times a month. You were like a drug, and I your hungry, helpless addict.

Somewhere in both of our hearts, though, we had to know it wouldn’t last. We have to do the adult thing and admit to ourselves that sometimes in this crazy, mixed-up world, love just isn’t enough. I’ve had to go up a t-shirt size, and when I bend over to tie my shoes too quickly, I start breathing heavily and nearly pass out from the exertion. Things are even worse for you, what with being ground into a mash by my teeth and then getting destroyed by the acid in my stomach. In spite of our best intentions, I can’t help but feel like this relationship always had an expiration date, and I think we both know that our time together has come to an end. I’ll always have a special space for you in my heart, Meatball Parmigiana Sandwich from Amato’s. We had some laughs, but I think it is finally time to move on.

Fondly yours,

Malcolm

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the junk food blog "Spork & Barrel," and "Brocavore," a blog about food trucks and street food culture. His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, Eat Rockland, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

10 Comments

  1. Have you considered how your absence will affect Meatball Parmagiana Sandwich? You sound like you’re getting on with your life, but she may need counseling

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    1. You know, I know it sounds harsh, but I need to be all about me and my career right now. And I think I’ve earned the right to be selfish, don’t you? Don’t we all get to have that, once in a while?

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  2. I know the feeling Meatball Parmigiana from Amato’s! This guy landed in our small seaside town in Mexico, romanced me, told me he loved me, promised me I was the ONE… next thing I know he’s gone!! He went to Maine and replaced me with a copy of me that he made at home!! It’s not fair, someone or somefood should stop him before he strikes again.

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    1. Jeez baby, be cool, would you? I don’t follow you around to your websites bringing up the past. I think we can all admit we made some mistakes, but there’s no sense bringing up old heartache, is there? I’ve moved on…why can’t you?

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  3. Hauntingly, heartbreakingly beautiful. I’m still reeling from a breakup with breakfast tacos and cheese enchiladas three weeks ago. I miss them with every beat of my heart. It takes every ounce of willpower I have not to get into the truck and drive to my favorite hole in the wall an hour away and ravish two chorizo, potato, and cheese tacos. Oy.

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