Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Ode to the Sandwich

It's lunch time, so no surprise that I am contemplating The Sandwich. Sure, in reality I am eating a huge salad, but that does not stop me from thinking about more food. Here are my top thirteen favorites, plus a humorous look at this remarkable food item and BONUS! a recipe.

  1. Classic: Natural Peanut Butter, Cinnamon Creamed Honey on Multi-grain
  2. Veggie: Grilled Portobella Mushroom, Roasted Red Peppers, Olive Tapenade, Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese on Baguette
  3. Italian Veggie: Fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, fresh tomatoes, Balsamic Viniagrette, Ciabatta
  4. My Soul Food (Fat Deacon): Barbecued Burnt Ends, Coleslaw, Hot Barbecue Sauce, Kaiser roll
  5. Skinny: Smoked Turkey, Leafy Greens, Garlic-Dill Cheese, Pesto on Whole Wheat Tortilla
  6. Burger: All-natural Buffalo Burger served medium-rare on Wholegrain Bun
  7. Indulgence: Meatball grinder with provolone
  8. Grilled Cheese Redux: Grilled Gouda, Stoneground Mustard with Artichoke Hearts on Whole Grain Bread
  9. Comfort Food: Grilled Cheddar with Apples and Caramelized Onions on Wholegrain
  10. Breakfast: The Monte Cristo
  11. Red Meat: Roast Beef, Caramelized Onions, Wasabi Mayo on French bread
  12. Ethnic: The Gyro
  13. FAVORITE RECIPE BELOW: The Number One Spicy
A Humorous Look at the History of the Sandwich, Plus a Recipe

The first documented sandwich, according to Linda Stradley, author of “I’ll Have What They’re Having,” was in the first century B.C. The rabbi Hillel placed a mixture of nuts, spices, apples and wine between two matzohs and served it with bitter herbs as part of a Passover custom. The filling was a reminder of the suffering of the Jews in Egypt.

During the middle, ages, meat and other foods where piled on top of thick slices of bread called “trenchers.” After the meal, the gravy-soaked bread was tossed to an animal or less fortunate individual. Judging from the lack of readily available spices and fresh meat in the middle ages, the gravy and filling were likely a reminder of suffering as well.

But when did the sandwich, become The Sandwich? Not surprisingly, the sandwich was named during a poker game in the 1700s by John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. During the game, Montague refused to get up from the table and demanded his valet to get him some meat tucked between two pieces of bread. The others at the table requested, “I’ll have the same as Sandwich.”

Of course, the French claim they had invented the sandwich much earlier than Sandwich. But, according to the French, they pretty much invented food in general. Come on, England’s cuisine history includes items like blood pudding, and something called spotted dick. Let’s give the Brits one for a change.

The anatomy of the sandwich can be described in three parts:

Bread. We Americans have a strange fixation with The Great White Wonder and other tasteless mass-produced breads. My only “wonder” is “I wonder how they can call this bread.” Real bread has flavor and texture. It tastes so good, you curse the Atkins diet and rebel in a wild, orgiastic carb-frenzy.

Spreads. Spreads can include mayonnaise or peanut butter. But why not wasabi mayonnaise, or fire-roasted red pepper puree? What about Chardonnay Wine Mustard, Amber Ale Mustard, or Garlic Rosemary Mustard? Be creative.

Filling. Filling includes meats, vegetables, eggs, cheese, and bound salads like tuna salad, egg salad, chicken or LOBSTER ROLL!

These are best found at a roadside stand on a coastal highway in Maine. For less money than a bad meal somewhere else, you can dine on a big, sweet, messy lobster salad, with just enough dressing to keep the lobster on the roll.

Maine is an interesting place. You can get a lobster roll at McDonald’s in Maine. You can also get live lobster for five bucks a pound at Walmart. And, oddly enough, you can get a 50-gallon drum of day-old chocolate donuts at Dunkin’ Donuts for bear hunting. I am told, the bear prefer chocolate. No sprinkles.

If I were going to get shot over a food item, it sure wouldn’t be a day-old donut. And how sporting is that, anyway, sitting watch over a 50-gallon drum of donuts with a high-power rifle? For a real challenge, these hunters should strap a dozen glazed to their backsides and go into the woods armed with just a Louisville Slugger. I’m sure there’s a reality show in the making there.

Smarter bear avoid the junk food. They prefer salmon, dry-smoked, and served on light rye with Garlic and Rosemary Mustard. Or, they could just go to the roadside stand, get a lobster roll, and wait for slow-moving tourists.

Recipe: Number One, Spicy.
The local Italian deli has a real name for this one, but no one knows what it is, just walk up to the counter and say, “Number One, Spicy.” If you do not include “Spicy” your manhood will be mocked. Trust the man behind the counter, he is your friend. Number one, SPICY.

Ingredients:
1 Ciabattini (small, roll-sized loaf of Ciabatta)

3 Imported Italian meats, sliced thin, piled high to your discretion, about 6-8 oz: Copocolla, Salami, Prosciutto. Get the real stuff. No substitutions.

Imported Provolone, 1-2 slices

3 thin slices of fresh tomato. Hey, you need some vegetables.

Lettuce, iceberg (roughage, helps with all that meat) and crunch. We like crunch. About 1/4 cup of it.

About 1/4 cup Giardiniera, spicy if you dare. This is a marinated vegetable condiment available in jars. Carrots, peppers, cauliflower and other veggies ... Fantastic.

Balsamic Vinagrette (1:2 vinegar to oil mix). Use Modena Balsamic. Real stuff.

Stacking order:

Bottom slice Ciabattini, tomato, meat, cheese, more meat, lettuce, giardiniera, balsamic, top slice of Ciabattini.

Should serve two, but who are we kidding?

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