I am a sandwich whore.
There, I said it. Wow! I feel better. The first step to recovery is admitting that I have a problem.
Wait, I don’t want to recover. I love sandwiches. They are, in my opinion, the world’s perfect food. A sandwich is a portable and self-contained combination of protein, sides, bread, and sauce. Sandwiches can be small and simple or huge and extravagant. Sandwiches are only as limited as our imagination.
I even found myself filling out an application to host a show about searching for the perfect sandwich. I am still waiting for a call on that one. For any of my friends who have tested their hand at any kind of film work, you know what that means.
In my mind sandwiches were invented with a chef in mind. How many of us are normally found walking down the line as we check out our cooks at the end of a shift while holding a sandwich. I know that this is not the romanticized vision of a chef that most people want. It is also a pretty good health code violation in most parts. But, the sandwich is what gets many chefs through the day and ensures that they have something in their belly before they get to the bar.
You can tell a lot about someone by how they order a sandwich. It starts with what sandwich they want. Are they ordering an old standard or creating their own? Do they want it hot or cold? Is there something about the sandwich that they specifically don’t want or that they want more of? Are they looking for something fresh and crisp or something aged and complex? Do they want their sandwich swimming in sauce or do they prefer it dry? Does cheese become involved in their sandwich, and if so which of the thousands has a place in their heart?
I know that it seems like I am waxing poetic about sandwiches and I am. Sandwiches have a special place in my heart. I remember grandpa waking me up to get ready for golf and sharing a sandwich with him long before anyone else was up. Fried bologna and onions was probably not the best move before hitting the links, but those memories are priceless to me.
There is something inherently honest about a sandwich. It isn’t going to try to be something it’s not, because a sandwich can be just about anything. A sandwich will not be deconstructed, because it isn’t a sandwich at that point. A sandwich can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. I mentioned the fried bologna and onion sandwich already, however I did not mention that it is one of my favorites. In it’s simplest form it was as grandpa used to make it, fried garlic bologna with caramelized onions on rye bread. Sometimes grandpa would put a slice of Muenster on, a squeeze of yellow mustard, or even just a smear of butter. I know it’s simple, but it’s comfort.
I have, however, taken fried bologna and onions down a dark and glutinous yet sexy road before. I started with a homemade truffle bologna. I know that some readers have already perked up just a little. I kept the standard caramelized onions using beautiful Vidalia onions and added some buttermilk fried red onions. At this point I smeared a lovely bacon mayo on some crusty yet chewy sourdough. I am a firm believer that tomato should not be on fried bologna sandwiches, but I do like the tang so I served this luxuriously naughty beast with some fried green tomatoes with lemon vinaigrette.
Sandwiches are as American as it comes. They were invented for the life that we live. You can eat them on the run. You can have anything you want all at once. Sandwiches are your childhood, your guilty pleasures, or your special cravings served on your choice of bread. And, I believe, if you can put it on bread, you should eat it.
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