The Kabul Grinder
Traveling around the country, I’ve noticed that there are different regional names for large sandwiches on long rolls (whole small loaves of bread, really). Hoagy, Hero, Grinder, Po’ Boy are some of the more common ones, and the particular characteristics of the actual sandwiches bearing these names are not consistent from region to region. They’re not even pronounced the same. “Grinder” rhymes with “binder” or “finder” in most places but in parts of Michigan it rhymes with “cinder”. My dad used to tell a joke about an old-style booth-and-counter diner that claimed to make any kind of sandwich. A customer comes in and challenges the claim by ordering a whale sandwich. The guy behind the counter writes down the order and goes into the kitchen and comes back after rather a long time. "How many whale sandwiches did you want"? “Just one” says the customer. The guy goes back to the kitchen and stays even longer. He comes back and says "Sorry, sir. The boss says he can't start a fresh whale for just one sandwich".
Sixty years later I had a dream with a similar mood. In the dream I was also in an old fashioned diner and I had ordered the specialty of the house, a monstrous sandwich called “The Kabul Grinder”. It was taking a very long time, hours it seemed, for my food to arrive. The guy behind the counter noticed my growing impatience. “Sir,” he said, “it’s a mighty big job to assemble The Kabul Grinder.” I woke up laughing.
“The Kabul Grinder” makes a good instrumental on its own, without the words, and I actually recorded it as an instrumental twice (on two different banjos) but there wasn’t room to include either of them on “Wonders and Signs” . Perhaps I’ll include it as an instrumental on a disc some time in the future.
The Kabul Grinder
© Jody Stecher, Vegetiboy Music (BMI)
Every morning at eleven o clock
The doors fly open as they pull back the lock
They’re double-lined half way round the block
To eat the Kabul Grinder
The kabul grinder’s a manly threat
An insult to the slimmer set
No hoagie, hero, or poor boy yet
Has equaled the Kabul Grinder
Marinated mutton slices
In 97 different spices
Pickled thistle, gristle, this’ll
Relish the Kabul Grinder
It’s got Peaches, leeches, fat kebab
They pound it with a shovel to fit it in yr gob
To eat it is a mighty big job
Especially the unpeeled onions
Seven and a half pounds on the scale
Yr submarine why it just goes pale
Each day they release the cook from jail
To assemble the Kabul grinder
I tracked the grinder to its den
There I found the bones of a thousand men
The knees of warriors weaken when
They battle the Kabul grinder
Jody Stecher: vocal
and fretless five string banjo (made by J Clamp, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, late 19th century.