The Existential Mystery of the $56 Sandwich

The new Zingerman’s food mail-order catalog has arrived from Ann Arbor, bringing with it scads of gourmet brownies, aged balsamics and Jewish specialty breads. Far-flung deli lovers, rejoice!

Quality and cost, of course, often go hand-in-hand in the world of eating, and Zingerman’s is no exception. The Zingerman’s Rockin’ Reuben, Corned Beef or Pastrami Sandwich Kit Tote for 2 people goes for $75. Once you factor in the required overnight shipping, you’ve easily vaulted the $100 mark, meaning that each sandwich (plus the included brownies and pickles) clocks in at an ass-kicking $56.

Instead of dropping $112 for two sandwiches, of course, you could go to the Heifer International website and send an entire sheep to a needy family in Africa. Or you could buy a week’s worth of groceries for a family of three. Or you could get this cool LEGO Imperial Star Destroyer.

In other words, the tote bag prompts a question: Is it ever immoral to spend piles of money on luxury food? Where do we draw the line, if anywhere? $12 custard tarts? $56 sandwiches? $500 meals? Is it just whatever the wallet can bear, or is it possible to enter some hazy world of moral uncertainty when we spend like maniacs to eat the things we love?

Of course, if it’s a sin to pay a lot of money for good corned beef, I’ve booked my own ticket to hell several times over. It was worth it.