Update: Can you tell me how to bodega?
The REAL reason that I started this website is because in my first week I walked into a bodega (code word for “deli”) on the corner of my block and I asked for a sandwich and the response I got was “What did you order?”.
Safe to say, this is incredibly confusing for someone who has just arrived from Australia (or, I imagine) anywhere else really, because I hadn’t ordered anything… That’s why I was there! I know that this might seem completely trivial to some, but this was honestly one of the most daunting things I’ve done (and I still find it difficult sometimes).
So why is this and how are you meant to go about things properly?
Ordering a sandwich
When you walk into a bodega, you’re probably going to see someone sitting behind a cash register. This is NOT the person who you want to speak to about your sandwich.
- Walk straight past the person with the cash register and approach the higher counter, the one that is probably filled with deli meats, salads, and bread;
- Use this time to look around at what appears to be on offer. In some places, you will see a range of sandwiches they recommend printed above. If you want to be safe, pick something you like on this list (it probably has a name or a number);
- Keep hovering until it feels a little uncomfortable;
- Someone will inevitably pop their head up and ask what you would like (“Eh?”);
- In describing what you would like, you have a few options:
- If you picked something in 3., tell them what you picked;
- If not, you need to select a meat
- Chicken, turkey, ham, bologna etc.
- Some salads
- Lettuce, tomato, bacon etc.
- A dressing
- Mayonnaise, ranch, hot sauce etc.
- What type of bread you would like
- This is probably the most confusing thing because I’d never heard of a “hero” before. In answering, I was thinking Spiderman, and what they meant was “a roll that is bigger than your head and could feed a family of 6”. If you’re a big eater, go nuts, otherwise, I would suggest you don’t need this, just go with a “white roll” or “wholemeal wrap”;
- Finally, whether you would like it toasted;
- The next step is that you leave that nice man or woman to their business and shuffle along (maybe in line) towards the counter;
- This person will ask what you ordered, and you will pay with them;
- When the sandwich is ready, it will be delivered to this person, normally with some chips and maybe even a free soda (soft drink) or water!
- Run away, relieved, to eat your sandwich.
Ordering a salad
This process is almost identical to the above, however when you walk in, you will sometimes find a fridge with what looks like a bowl of greens. You need to grab one of these, and hand it over the counter in Step 5, above.
From here, you’re on your own. I’ve never actually ordered a salad here!