(For once, my lunch bag actually was brown today – Publix brand, in fact.)
Today was supposed to be a post about butterflied Cajun pork chops wrapped around fresh, teriyaki green beans with crash potatoes, garlic-butter-drowned-grilled shrimp and pieces of multigrain baguette (Publix), followed by molten chocolate cakes or chocolate pots de crème, or the warm chocolate cakes with bourbon crème anglaise found in Entertaining With Bluegrass Winners (so I’d have a ready entry for February First Thursday – damn). As it so happened, things went awry, the shrimp charred itself to the bottom of an old pan and the chops were unsalvageable. Pizza Hut cheese pie and breadsticks ended up as supper, and it was mighty tasty. However, since there’s no sense in posting about Pizza Hut (everyone should already know how awesome PH is) or unrecognizable shrimp and chops, I’m gonna wax rampant about sandwiches.
The plain Jane of the food world, it seems. There are sites for sandwich-love (Panini Happy, anyone?), but more often than not, the poor unloved sandwich can be overlooked for more fancy creations like seared foie gras on a bed of julienned endive topped with basil-mint foam. Sandwiches are the everyday, Joe Schmoe of lunch and supper, breakfast as an afterthought. They’ve been shoved to the back of the middle rack in the fridge, wasting lunchmeat and wilting, neglected greens; or opened-once-in-the-rush-to-work-late jar of peanut butter, sighing sadly to itself in the dark corner of the pantry.
Fear not, lovies. Sandwiches are coming back.
I love sandwiches. I’m not afraid to say it, either. Sandwich = love. Think of the possibilities! No more the days of sagging white bread, peanut butter and grape jelly, sticking to the roof of your small child’s mouth where it stays stubbornly through class after lunch and you spend the next period trying to subtly dislodge it with your tongue while your math teacher writes long division on the board. Now we’re far beyond just white or cardboardwheat – now we have seeded multigrain, focaccia, Gruyere and onion, pumpkin swirl, marbled rye, sourdough! Any meat you desire, at your disposal – corned beef? Capicola? Prociutto and chicken breast? Hot salami? Pepperoni? Cheeses stretching as far as the imagination… blue and veined, smooth and soft, Provolone, Vermont cheddar, Gorgonzola, Emmentaler, the list goes on forever! No more the watery nothing of iceberg, but the sharp bite of arugula, the sweet crunch of baby spinach, the multi-textured goodness of frisee and the deep crunch of red cabbage!
Even past all this, the jump from an afternoon or evening meal back to morning – a lightly fried egg with just-crispy bacon, a slice of juicy red tomato, on gently browned honey wheat. Or fancier, egg sunny-side up, topped with stiff, warm prociutto, a few slices of ripe avocado and strips of roasted red pepper on a toasted ciabatta roll.
And even beyond breakfast to dessert? Slices of warm, decadent chocolate loaf enclosing dulche de leche and vanilla, lightly sprinkled with cinnamon, oozing sweet and silky perfection across the palate. Slaver over that.
My lunch today is not fancy, or sweet, or breakfast, but it is a sandwich. My meat preference for a lunchtime sandwich has been and likely always will be turkey breast. As a child it was very simple: French (really Italian) bread, turkey, lettuce, cheese. A few grapes as a side. Now my sandwich has changed, since I get to be the grocery shopper. The more you load your sandwich with, the better it can be, both nutritionally and taste-wise. A sandwich is the perfect vessel for a quick lunch, nutritionally sound and aesthetically pleasing. Of course, the more you load your sandwich with, the higher the likelihood that you’ll drop pieces as you eat. But personally, I like picking up pieces from my plate to eat seperately, like little treats aside your main meal.
Deli turkey breast, sliced thin but not shaved. Shredded colby-jack and mozzarella in a thin layer – too much shredded cheese and you’ll have a mess all over your desk. Baby spinach, dark and firm, one layer. Slices of ripe, buttery, smooth avocado – can I just tell you how much I love avocado? (I’d better not, or you’ll never get away from here.) All encased in two slices of seeded, multigrain loaf bread, with one slice drizzled with olive oil and topped with kosher salt, black pepper and oregano.
It really is my favorite sandwich. At least, for now.