I like sandwiches.
I have no idea when in my life I determined that a sandwich was a thing of beauty, but I have loved sandwiches from way back. Seriously, what is better than a sandwich? When it's done right, it's an amalgamation of textures and a marriage of tastes that are so much greater than the sum of their parts.
One of the first meals I fed my husband that really sealed the deal for him was a meatball sub. The process of making these subs was involved--hollowing out individual French loaves, then toasting and grinding the bread from the hollowing-out into fresh bread crumbs. Mixing the bread crumbs with ground beef, eggs, parmesan cheese, garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper, then forming and baking enormous (think nearly-baseball-sized) meatballs on racks in the oven. Simmering the meatballs in homemade tomato sauce, then nestling them lovingly in the hollowed-out bread with sauce, smoked provelone cheese, and then broiling them to create sandwiches, perfect, golden, toasty sandwiches. You may think this sounds like a lot of fuss to go through for a guy who I hadn't dated for more than a few weeks; in my opinion, a great sandwich is never too much effort. Also, I was 27 at the time; I was starting to feel the pressure to go ahead and land myself a husband. Anyway, as you can tell, it was worth it.
I've met very few sandwiches I haven't liked. When I was younger, my mother used to make sandwiches from sliced, salted radishes with cream cheese on wheat bread. Delicious. One of my favorite scenes from a movie, any movie, is the movie "Spanglish," when Adam Sandler, who plays a chef, comes home from work late at night and makes himself a sandwich in his own kitchen: a decadent and slightly over-the-top concoction created by Thomas Keller, chef of Napa Valley's restaurant French Laundry for the movie's creator, consisting of toasted rustic country bread, mayonnaise, thick-cut bacon, butter lettuce, tomatoes, Monterey Jack cheese, and a fried egg. Watching the single-minded dedication that his character puts into it is inspirational, especially when you consider that after a night in a restaurant kitchen, the reward of getting to sit down and eat that sandwich made it all worthwhile. One of the best things about moving home to Kalamazoo, Michigan, will be being close to Main Street Pub, the restaurant where Dan proposed to me, where they make an open-faced sandwich--its name escapes me at the moment--of toasted rye bread, ham, turkey, tomato slices, cheddar, and homemade blue cheese dressing, all broiled together. A friend of ours used to manage the Pub, and he told us once he had invented that sandwich as a hangover cure for the restaurant staff.
I've written about sandwiches before--plenty. Mostly here; also here (that Thomas Keller thing), and here. I want to know about your favorite sandwich. My favorite sandwich is hummus, very thinly sliced red onions, cucumbers, chopped kalamata olives, diced very ripe tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese and sliced avocado on a good-quality flour tortilla, wrapped up like a burrito, and sliced in half. When the tomatoes are really good, like in about August, I like a BLT too, with a few leaves of basil and some sliced fresh mozzerella, on good toasted bread with mayonnaise.
What's your perfect sandwich? It can be anything; use your imagination. A sandwich is way more than just a couple of slices of deli meat slapped between bread; the only way to screw up a sandwich, in my opinion, is to fall down on the job and assume that a sandwich is boring. Leave me your favorite sandwich in the comments.
Monday, April 20, 2009
I like sandwiches.