Tuesday, 17 June 2014


I eat a sandwich virtually ever day. Have done my whole life. Isn't that a bit boring? No. Actually, no. Lots of variety possible.

There is something deeply cultural about it. Somehow, probably because it was cheap and easy, I grew up thinking that lumch and sandwich were synonymous. Lunchtime? Eat sandwich.

Not only that, but I refuse to eat a sandwich at dinnertime. That screams "insufficuent" to me. And somehow just wrong. And no, I don't include burgers or tacos or quesadillas in that restriction. They are not what I think of when I think of a sandwich.

And I even like those simple, somewhat plain sandwiches from childhood. That is to say a ham sandwich, or a cheese sandwich, with nothing else other than butter and bread. These will please me greatly, at any time.

But I'm also very fond of elaborate sandwiches, crusty French bread split lengthwise and stuffed full of all manner of salads, meat, and condiments.

Still, the topic of sandwiches can be as massive as the entire topic of food. And I can be just as fussy.

Remember: I don't believe in eating bad food. EVER. I'm not poor enough or hungry enough.

The first issue is the bread. There was a time, I swear, that white sliced bread in a bag was edible. But that was at least 20 years ago. Of course our tastes become more sophisticated with age, but this is a comparison thing - 20+ years ago, bagged sliced white bread was similar to fresh white bakery bread, just not as good. NOW? No comparison. The white bagged sliced bread has a texture of polyester quilt batting, and tastes like cardboard. It has neither the texture, nor taste of bread at all. Cheap burger buns are as bad.

So, if that is all that's available, forget it. There's nothing you can add to make it enjoyable.

But let's return now to the question of culture.

I failed "Being English" miserably. From a young age I was far too interested in foreign food/culture/travel, and new experiences. I hate tea, have no time for royalty, cricket bores me silly, and the abiding English attitude that while the empire may be long gone, anything English is automatically better just disgusts me. It's complete bollocks, and is a simmering mild bigotry. Yeuk.

Nevertheless, I was raised in a land where bread was spread with butter, and it feels like a default to me. That's the first step. After that, all bets are off, but butter my bloody bread, will you? This whole North American thing of mayo instead of butter will not do. I love mayo, oh yes I do. And I will add it to many of my sandwiches. But I still want butter first.

That's not the only problem I have with the typical North American sandwich. Why does it have to have cheese in it? You make fun of me for my butter default, but you have a cheese default. Cheese in every sandwich just ends up making all sandwiches too alike. Again, I love cheese. I love a cheese sandwich. But if I ask for a roast beef sandwich, for example, if I don't mention cheese, it means I don't want it. Otherwise I'd ask for a roast beef and cheese sandwich.

In particular I do not want ham and cheese. Yes, I know it's popular. Yes, ham on pizza is fine. But cold sliced cheese should not be adulterated with ham, and cold sliced ham should not be adulterated with cheese.

And while I'm at it, processed pretend cheese has no place ANYWHERE. If you put that in my sandwich I'll throw it at you.

Then there's the BLT. Which I don't understand. Or, to put it another way, I'll take my BLT without lettuce or tomato, thank you. A bacon sandwich is a thing of great beauty. Buttered bread, obviously, well-cooked bacon (no flabby fat), and ketchup will do nicely.

A sausage sandwich is good too. Cooked sausages, cold, sliced lengthwise, with ketchup. A hot dog is NOT good. Sausage in a bun? Sure. But not a nasty quilt batting bun (see above). Good bread. And not a nasty wiener, a good sausage. Any kind of good sausage, doesn't matter. Add ketchup, or mustard, or both, or sauerkraut. But no bloody hot dogs.

Then there's seafood. Sardines, tuna, salmon, shrimp, all will make me quite happy. I was in my 30s before I discovered tuna mayonnaise, and I quite like it now, but I'm just as happy with regular tuna, and some sliced cucumber. My husband does a beautiful salmon "salad" mix, with lots of black pepper.

Liverwurst, pâté, and potted meats (or fish) are all just fine with me too. Cucumber makes a good addition.

As for ham, so long as it's not too cheap and nasty, it's all good. What goes with ham? Well, tomato, and/or mayo, or Branston pickle, or mustard. Or a full salad. That all works. NO CHEESE.

Roast beef, add tomato or horseradish. NO CHEESE.

Chicken or turkey, only from a real roast. None of the processed deli meats quite work. White meat only, and fine just as is, with salt. Or with Branston, or salad. NO CHEESE.

And the vast majority of deli meats are nasty, especially the soft ones. Bologna, mortadella, and all that. Yeuk.

Salami is good though. Add mayo and thinly sliced green pepper. Maybe some olives. Cheese here is optional, but it has to be a suitable cheese.

Eggs, ah yes. Egg mayo or just sliced hard-boiled egg is fine. Add tomato. Or cress. Or just as is. NO CHEESE.

I do not eat fried egg sandwiches, because I do not eat fried egg white. I particularly dislike the weird pseudo-omelettes that fast food places put in breakfast "sandwiches". And their greasy sausage patties are vile too. I have a problem with grabbing breakfast "on the road" for this reason - these tend to be their idea of breakfast.

Peanut butter? NO. Never, don't eat it. And as for combining it with jam.......bizarre. Just bizarre.

I don't eat Marmite (see note above on failing "Being English").

And don't get me started on sandwiches with soup.

Oh, while I'm here, we must discuss grilled cheese sandwiches. First of all, the name. Because usually they are actually fried. So if we are talking ACTUALLY grilled, like panini, that's fine. I'll even mix cheese and meat then. But a fried cheese sandwich? No. Forget it. Give me a slice of cheese on toast any day, and for preference with sliced tomato on top.

Have I forgotten anything? Probably, because people put some weird shit in sandwiches.


  1. I also love sandwiches, and sorry to say, peanut butter and jam is one of my favourites in a pinch. You are absolutely correct right that cheese does not have to be included in everything, and I too dislike the processed cheeses. I'll eat it if it's there and I'm in a hurry but I refuse to purchase it; it's wasteful and not really tasty.
    The quintessential Montreal sandwich as most will tell you is Montreal smoked meat on rye with mustard and a dill pickle on the side.

    1. I had a Montreal smoked meat sandwich in Montreal and it was good, but what they call Montreal smoked meat in the supermarkets is tasteless. Martin occasionally buys it but I never touch it.