Subway Discount: Eat not so fresh

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My financial situation has forced me to make certain lifestyle adjustments, including a radical change in diet. I enjoy humus, Norwegian smoked salmon, Kashi Crisp and  Kobe beef, all of which are off the current menu.

Thankfully, right near my apartment is an eatery that falls into my daily budget range (5-10 US dollars or, as I prefer to think of it: Roughly 600-1200 Italian Lira). I want to share this restaurant with you. Please tell only your poorest friends. A jump in customers could lead to a jump in prices. In which case, I would be screwed.

I live on 120th street and Amsterdam. To get home, I take the 1 Train to 116th. But when I am feeling hungry and know I do not have anything good at home, I keep on riding the train to 125th and Broadway. There, where the train is above ground, you’ll find two things that are rare in Manhattan: An open parking lot and a 24-hour McDonald’s. Take a left past the quivering golden arches and walk east on 125th. About twenty yards down the block you’ll find the Subway Discount.

Most people don’t know that Subway has a discount brand. Indeed, they might think that Subway is already cheap enough and that “Subway Discount” is a redundant name, on par with “Egg Omelet” or “Children’s Primary School.” Those people would be wrong. Subway Discount is very much real and very much cheaper than regular Subway. I am not sure if it exists only in this particular location or if they have branches in other urban areas. The internet has yielded no results.

The sign looks just like a regular Subway sign, only there is the word “Discount” written at the same bold angle. Underneath where it normally says “Eat fresh” some clown has spray-painted the words “not so” in blue. Get it? “Eat not so fresh.” I no longer comment on the lame joke ever since the guy behind the counter told me it was a Crypt who did it. The guy behind the counter is a friendly person named Jamal. He assures me that, as long as I have no affiliation with the Bloods, I have nothing to worry about.

I go to Subway Discount most evenings after work in order to create the cheapest possible sandwich. To do that, I need to make a series of consciously bad decisions. I grew up listening to (and believing) propaganda about organic and free-range food. But quality comes with a price and these things are almost always more expensive. In fact, I always know which option will be the cheapest by asking myself, “Which sounds the healthiest?” and ordering the other thing. That other thing may be filled with hormones, preservatives and carcinogens, but, hey, it is food.

Just like a regular Subway, you start with the bread. The options are slightly different: Seven  Grain, White, Stale Seven Grain or Stale White. I know that the more grains something has, the better it is for you, so I go with the stale white. It’s sure to be mostly sugar, which is pretty cheap.

Then you pick your size. I always choose the six-inch. As I’ll explain later, it ends up being more food for less money.

Afterwards, you pick your meat. Despite being the principal ingredient in your sandwich, this is not an important financial decision. All the meats are the same price and bear the same tertiary relationship to the original animal flesh. The ham is just a little too slick for my taste. I like the turkey, which shines pleasingly like a baby’s cheek.

For vegetables, go with anything that is salted, pickled or both. Not because they are cheaper. All the vegetables are free. Rather choose only the preserved ones because you have no idea how long they have been there.

If you want to be decadent, get some cheese. Do not go overboard. Cheese is an easy place to add cents without adding much food. Select the cheese that most resembles plastic. I know from experience that it is the Pepper Jack, which is a mix of equal parts American cheese and Coca-Cola bottle. That’s what gives it those little flecks of color.

Next, add your sauces, which are free of charge. Go crazy and try the Ranch.

Now here is the key step. When Jamal asks you if you’d like anything else, say “yes.” Say that you would like it “Subway-sized.” (Obviously they ripped off McDonald’s.) They don’t advertise this service, but I saw a few Crypts do it the second time I came in. Anyone can do it.  Super-sizing entails a few spritzes from a spray-can Jamal keeps hidden under the counter. Picture a Windex bottle only with Subway colors. The liquid inside is that yellow-green.  Two spritzes from this marvelous bottle and your 6-inch sub elongates and widens to a good 4 by 8 inches.

That’s 32 square inches of sandwich. And what’s the price? $ 5.27 including taxes. Jamal doesn’t expect a tip. “I’m a realist,” he tells me. According to him, the Subway-Sizer contains roughly the same mix of hormones that they spray on McDonald’s cows.

How disgusting. But I eat it anyway. After all, it is food. On the bright side, I have grown a good two inches in height since I began eating at Subway Discount. I like to focus on the positive: Soon I’ll be able to dunk.

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