Recently, Boaz Frankel of the Your Favorite Sandwich podcast invited me to share my favorite sandwich in under a minute.
In a flash, my personal history of sandwiches flew through my head, starting with the ones my mother made using a Toas-tite Pie Iron, like two hinged metal clam shells that clamp sliced bread around a filling like cheese or apples dusted with cinnamon, and caramelizes it into a flying saucer-shaped pie with a molten center.
…There were the 2-inch thick fresh crab salad on homemade white bread my parents bought us all at Gil Clark’s on Long Island before we caught the Fire Island Ferry. They were so packed with crab, you could only eat a half; we’d take the other half home to eat on the beach.
…And the legendary humped hard-boiled egg and anchovy sandwiches that Harry’s Bar in Venice is famous for. I ate my fill when I was the food stylist for The Harry’s Bar Cookbook; and the photographer and I had the run of the place.
…There was insanely extravagant sandwich I devised when some chef friends and I were experimenting with the pound of black truffles we’d pooled our resources to buy (decades ago when they were MUCH cheaper than they are now.) I was mulling the Jabugo ham I’d brought back from a recent trip to Spain, thinking of acorn fed pigs and the smooth nutty texture of cured ham whose fat spread like butter, when I had a flash of inspiration. I spread a thin slab of baguette with the fat and barely toasted it in the oven. Then I layered it with black truffle slices and a thin slice of Jabugo. It went back into the oven just until the heat warmed the truffles enough to release their flavor. That sandwich transported us.
…I think longingly of the open-face sandwiches I ate in Finland, on utterly coarse, chewy rye bread spread with sweet butter and topped with a perfectly-cured herring.
There are a lifetime of plateless sandwiches I’ve made a la minute and eaten standing up: a soft fried egg sandwiched between thin slices of prosciutto bread, or late night, sweet-tooth inventions like chocolate pastilles sandwiching peanut butter.
But the best sandwich was the one a stranger made me after inviting me into her clapboard house in the West Virginia Appalachians for coffee.
You can hear the 40 second telling here.
Harry’s Bar sandwich from The Harry’s Bar Cookbook; photo by Christopher Baker
herring sandwich via Vicki Wasik for Eater