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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten... Sandwiches!


   Building on the last post, I am still thinking about food. Must be the diet.

   All that notwithstanding, I gave a few moments of thought to my favorite sandwiches. For the purpose of this post, I mean any meal consisting of two pieces of bread with some sort of filling between them. Hot, cold, grilled, whatever. Not open-face sandwiches, though - only things you can (at least in theory) pick up and eat. Also, I kept the ubiquitous hamburger and its many variants out. It's my list, and I can set the rules as I want to, thanks!

   I think it will come to very few people's surprise that many of the following are British in origin. Besides my general Anglophilia, the English did actually invent the things, at least 'officially.' Thank you, Lord Sandwich!

   As always, the order in which these are placed is highly subjective, and may, in fact, have changed slightly based on whatever it is I have had most recently, or which I long for most ardently. Let me know what your favorites are in the Comments.

10. Peanut Butter and Jelly

   The king of childhood sandwiches. Peter Pan or Jif Extra Crunchy on white bread with either grape jelly (preferably my grandfather's homemade from wild grapes) or red plum jam. Apple butter is an acceptable substitute for jelly. Crusts on mine, but you may have yours removed. Cut into triangles, never rectangles. That's just wrong.

9. Grilled Cheese

   If anything could beat out the PB&J for 'best kid sandwich' it's this. And none of your fancy pants stuff to 'improve' it. No fancy Gruyere cheese or Brioche bread. The KISS principle is fully in effect here. Bread, butter, American cheese (Kraft Singles, preferably). Grill till brown and melty. Cut diagonally and serve. Served with a mug of hot tomato soup it is a perfect chilly day lunch.

8. Roast Beef

   This is the pub version I mean. Nice red roast beef, some strong horseradish, maybe a slice of sharp cheddar, on a salted hard roll. Man, I'm drooling here. Side it up with a pickle and a bag of Walker's crisps (salt and vinegar or Worcestershire). And a draft.

7. BLT

   Bacon. Lettuce. Tomato. The first sandwich with vegetable matter on the list. Combine these three ingredients with a bit of mayo, and you've got a heck of a good sandwich. My favorites come from a Texas convenience store chain called Buccee's. Nice thick bacon (and lots of it!), leafy lettuce, decent tomato, with a homemade spicy mayo and on a big yummy bun. Had one for lunch today.

6. Chick Fil A Sandwich

   The original and still the best fried chicken breast sandwich. I don't care about the politics of the owners. This is one damn fine sandwich. I worked at a Chick Fil A back in the late 80s in high school for two years. I've had their food so many ways I can't even begin to count them, and some of the items are no longer available on the menu. Here's a secret that most people don't know: you should put the coleslaw on the sandwich. But be sure to drain off most of the coleslaw dressing when you do.

5. Schlotzsky's Original

   This is a Texas take on a New Orleans original, the muffaletta. It has smoked ham, Genoa and cotta salami, cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, mustard, red onions, black olives, tomato, and lettuce on a made-in-store sourdough bun that is awesome. And then they grill the meat and cheese before putting the cold ingredients on it. So yummy.

4. Philly Cheesesteak

   I've had the Real Thing on the street from a food trailer in Philly. And imitations elsewhere. So long as the beef is thin and hot, the onions grilled, and the cheese melty, it's pretty good stuff. My favorite is with mushrooms and Provolone, but I can go purist and have it with the Whiz. Texadelphia makes a pretty good one.

3. Chip Butty

   Chips (french fries) on a sandwich. Absolutely British, and absolutely good. It gets a bad rap from a lot of foodies, but they're brilliant. I prefer mine with brown sauce to ketchup.

2. Bacon Bap

   Bacon. Brown sauce. Bap bread (a roll). Breakfast for the gods. I would eat one every day I am in the UK if I didn't sit down for a Full English.

1. Oyster Po'Boy

   Legend has it that this sandwich was created in New Orleans during a strike. The owner of a restaurant that had catered to the men on strike couldn't bear to see them go hungry, and he had more seafood than he was going to sell. Rather than let it go to waste, he fried up some oysters (or maybe it was shrimp), put it on a baguette with some mayo, lettuce, and tomato, and sent it out to the "po' boys out there." I dunno if this is a true story or not. But I do know that these are good sandwiches. 

   Strangely, the best I ever had was from a cafe in a gas station in downtown Houston, right behind the central bus station. Sizzling hot fresh oysters (or shrimp, or crawfish tails), piled so high you had to eat a few before you could pick up the sandwich. I prefer oyster, with some tartar sauce instead of mayo.


TamsinP said...

That's quite a list of sandwiches and some good ones in there. You can't beat a good chip butty or a bacon bap, except perhaps with a fried egg sarnie (yolk must be just starting to thicken - not too runny, but not hard).

As an alternative to roast beef, if you ever find yourself in a part of London where there has been a strong Jewish influence then look out for salt-beef.

J Womack, Esq. said...

Tamsin: not the last time we were in London, but the time before, we stayed a bit more on the east side. Somewhere in Islington, or thereabouts. I don't recall exactly. Any rate, there was a little bagel shop there that made fantastic bagels. They spelled it beigels, but still. And 24 hour! Beigels and hot tea! Always bought a bag for the homeless fellows hanging about out front, too. Call it two pounds' worth of neighbourly goodwill.

Anyway, I will look out for the salt beef, sure, next trip. Probably next June, if I can manage it.

Chuckaroobob said...

I don't eat seafood, so I'll have to trust you about the oysters/shrimp ones.

I'd also like to add the French Dip as a honorable mention, although perhaps its a variant of the roast beef already on your list.