Ode To Sandwiches

Regular readers will remember the vigorous back-tracking done in the recent post In Defence of Sandwiches when excuses had to be made for having seemed to have been demeaning towards the humble sandwich. Well, friends, here’s some more hand-held, lunchable flip-flopping for you, I’m writing today about an excellent sandwich I made for lunch and which sat in my backpack, sweating away under the hot sun for half a day before being enjoyed. I normally mock such soggy sandwiches and compare them unfavorable to my delicious leftovers, but this was an extraordinary sandwich, and one that provided a gourmet experience not at the desk, as is my usual lunching spot, but on a rock in the hills of upstate New York.

Last weekend, Amy and I were hiking in Sam’s Point Preserve, close to the one-horse town that is Cragsmoor, NY, and we had decided to take a picnic with us as a way of economizing, having already splurged on dinner the previous night. After two hours on the trail, we sat down to lunch. Pulling the foil-wrapped bufala mozzarella, rocket (wild arugula) and pesto topped Italian bread roll from my bag, I was happy to see that it hadn’t wilted completely, and the foil had kept it from overheating. We’d even brought extra pesto along with us in a small plastic pot, so were able to use it like a condiment, dipping our sandwiches in for an extra garlicky-basilico tang. All extremely delicious and made all the more enjoyable by a beautiful view over the surrounding hills clothed with the yellows, oranges and reds of fall.


I raise this sandwich not just as an example of how to make an ordinary picnic slightly less ordinary, but also as an example (see image) of a sandwich that is not over-stuffed with fillings whose success relies on the careful balance of bread, condiment and just two high-quality fillings.

Another recent example of a successful, but simple, sandwich is the paté and cornichon sandwich I made for lunch the other day. Our first order from Fresh Direct was filled with “luxury and gourmet” products we wouldn’t normally buy, and for some reason buying things online made it much easier to swallow the $12 for a 1/4lb of jamon serrano.

Also in that order was a thick slab of country pork paté (literally) peppered with whole black peppercorns and surrounded by a generous layer of fat. Having bought some wholewheat Portuguese rolls, some amazingly cheap wild arugula and a jar of cornichons (baby gherkin pickles) we had the makings of a fantastic sandwich. Add a little smooth Dijon mustard, and you’ve got what the French might call “un sandwich de chasseur” or hunters’ sandwich. Fantastically simple, hearty and delicious, with the right blend of meaty fattiness, crunchy pickles, sharp mustard and peppery tang of the arugula.

The great thing about sandwiches is that you can put virtually anything between bread and that a great sandwich doesn’t have to have thirty-six slices of roast beef crammed into it. I often reminisce about a roll with 2 slices of the most fantastic jamon iberico that I had for breakfast in Barcelona train station a few years ago. Do you have a great sandwich memory or a killer sandwich“recipe” / combo that you’d like to share? What’s you favorite sandwich? And what’s the best accompaniment to it? Potato chips (crisps), fries (chips), salad, condiment/s? Let us know.

2 thoughts on “Ode To Sandwiches

  1. One day I had a slice of prosciutto crudo in a bun, bought in the Milan train station. I can taste it 20 years later. Simple is better.

    1. @G: Thanks for the comment. Isn’t it funny? I have the same kind of recollection of a jamon sandwich we had at Barcelona Sants station in 2005, an eggplant sandwich we bought at a gas station in Umbria just before we got married, and a hard salami/saucission baguette we grabbed at a rest-stop while waiting to board the channel tunnel train. In the meantime I’ve eaten a ton of thickly piled deli sandwiches in America and virtually none of them have stuck in my memory. That said, a few Mexican tortas from El Tenampa and the Badda bing (breaded chicken cutlet with sharp provolone and long hot peppers) from Primo’s hoagies were truly memorable.

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