Saturday, August 24, 2013

There is a Right and Wrong Way to Build a Sandwich. I'm Sorry.

When I can't get myself together well enough to make my own sandwiches for lunch, I buy them from the local university so-called catering service on campus. These [adjectival and adverbial expletive] [noun expletives] don't know or care about how to build a sandwich. Typically the meat is on top. Then there's a weird set of understoreys, usually lettuce, then cheese, then tomatoes, or similar. It's done systematically, by the dozens, so I wonder why do they do it (vehemently) systematically wrong when it could be done systematically right?

My ideal for a sandwich is thus:

By convention there are two pieces of bread, excepting the delightful Club Sandwich, which has three. The single-slice "Open-Faced Sandwiches" of my youth are emphatically not sandwiches: you may as well call salsa on a tortilla chip or Cheez-Whiz on a Ritz an "open-faced sandwich" if you accept the single-slice paradigm. So-called "wraps" are a topic for another day but they are not sandwiches (also, Spoiler alert: there is no such food as a "wrap", and I refuse to eat any thing so-named). So now it's clear what I am and am not referring to here.

Two pieces of bread. On these pieces of bread are spread such condiments as mayonnaise, mustard, perhaps even horseradish, butter, cream cheese, chutney, olive oil, aioli or ketchup. Or Vegemite! Or Nutella ... or an olive tapenade. Or whatever. People always spread stuff, whether you like it or not. We all know that.

Anyhow, between the bread, at the bottom is the meat. [NB: Often the sandwich is named after the meat, e.g., Roast Beef Sandwich.]

Above it is the cheese.

Then leafy greens, if they are in the sandwich. If you have juicy stuff like tomatoes, that goes above the lettuce.

Crackers, Ruffles, pickles -- those will be be around the lettuce layer but below the tomatoes.

And all for good reason. To wit:

The point of a sandwich is the meat, or in non-meat sandwiches the cheese, or eggplant, or garden burger, etc. If you make a PBJ (because you're high or nostalgic probably), the peanut butter is on the bottom -- especially if it's crunchy/chunky (which it should be). When you bite into a sandwich the first thing after the bread that you should taste and feel is the meat. If it doesn't reach your tongue quickly, then you are just mashing a bunch of random stuff up in your mouth with no discrimination -- like a fucking swine plowing through offal. (I acknowledge that certain sandwich-eaters [e.g, fucking swine] would disagree with this characterization of themselves as fucking swine. Thou dost protest too much, says I.)

Back to it: Cheese is known to be awesome, so you want to taste it next. It melts as you chew it and it blends with the fats and proteins of the meat on your tongue, as your saliva starts digesting it. Why is a blue cheese burger so good? Because it doesn't enter your mouth on top of a salad between two pieces of bread.

Leafy greens taste less good (on average) than ripe tomatoes, grilled peppers, etc., but they impede the incisors cutting through the upper layers, so it's best to have the tomatoes above them, otherwise the tomatoes et al. get shmooshed out the sides as you bite.

This is my logic. If you don't care about the construction of a sandwich, you shouldn't be making them. A good, coherent sandwich made with even perfunctory care can be a minorly awesome thing that restores you at midday and puts you in a good place. A sandwich of apparent madness -- ass-over-teakettle, or trína chéile as my Irish mom would say -- is antagonizing. And no one needs to be antagonized by a goddamned sandwich.