Food has always been a passion of mine. Please join me as I hit spots around the world in search of great meals.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Reclaiming Sandwich

As most of you know, I’m a hack when it comes to writing about my food, poker and city adventures. Thus, I have started to post up guest writers on my food site. The problem with having friends that are great writers is that you tend to feel a bit dwarfed and humbled at your limited writing abilities. Yet, what I have come to do is value, appreciate and try to promote my friends gifted writing styles. With that being said, I welcome you to read a recent post by one of the more sarcastic, humble, and degenerate gamblers I know. He goes by the name of BG and he knows food, horses, bad break-ups (my sarcastic humor) and is an underground scribe whose real name I don’t even know…so without further ado, I present to you Boy Genius and his piece titled, "Reclaiming Sandwich".

On a recent vacation our somewhat sizeable group had a hotel ballroom commandeered, an open bar that covered nearly all available daylight hours, and that seemed to be just the tip of the iceberg.

See, I saw a white-jacketed man in a toque wander in and start lining up tables. Buffet line perhaps? I started putting the pieces together in my head and decided that the appearance of the man in the toque could only mean one thing: a roast beef carving station was soon to appear. I had probably eight cigarettes and three greyhounds for breakfast, so a lunch featuring even the fattiest, brownest, lowest grade excuse for beef was getting me excited.

I kept an eye out for the man in the toque as he continued to wander in and out, scoping the environment, doubtlessly doing the mental calculations necessary as to choose the proper number of plates, forks, knives, au jus cups and maybe even working up the mental schematics so as to not waste a single foot of extra extension cord for the heat lamps. Finally, he re-entered the room with a serving tray...

...full of finger sandwiches.

Setting aside my sheer heartbreak and abject disappointment for just a moment, is there an abomination more injurious to the noun "sandwich" than the effortlessly cobbled food service bullshit called the "finger sandwich?" While I'm sure there are legions of elderly women who frequent high-end teahouses who would disagree with me vehemently, I have personally never been in a position where the finger sandwich has ever been more than a limp-assed attempt at constructing a layered bread-and-food-stuffs product with nothing but the most inexpensive and grotesque materials the back of the fridge could produce.

When I hear "sandwich," I want to imagine a crusty Italian loaf bulging with Proscuitto and dripping with olive oil. I want to think about the Gorgonzola and alfalfa sprout sandwich on rye I had (toasted rye, with melted provolone, spicy mustard, tomato and cucumber too) from a long-since-closed deli years ago. I hear "sandwich" and I can picture a cheap diner French dip, or even a humble BLT on toasted wheat. I have a lot of love for the sandwich as a concept and in my reality. It's traditional, as humble as you please, and as gaudy as you wish.

This is why I feel wounded to the core inspecting the hotelier's offerings. White bread is the obvious base, and it wouldn't have surprised me to know that there was a clown depicted in some state of merriment on the outside of the plastic bag. Of course, the crusts were removed (if you can call the browned-but-indistinct outer hull of a Wonder-loaf "crust") as to not offend the delicate sensibilities of the unrefined palate. Squished between the slices we found two varieties. The first was a combination of what appeared to be strawberry jam and off-brand cream cheese. I offer a distinct congratulations to those that managed to eat one of these without landing a dollop of disgust upon their lap. The second was truly offensive. It featured the sort of prefabricated ham slice that was undoubtedly factory-pressed to the precise shape of the soon-to-be matched slice of bread. Presumably after all the packing gelatin had been rinsed from its chemically-enhanced pink, it was accompanied by a simple slice of American cheese and a slathering of Satan's instrument of colonnic destruction - mayonnaise. While the creamy jelly variety at least could point to a stripe of rich red color in the middle to entice, the bleached abject whiteitude of the bread seemed to wash directly with the similarly toned mayo to rinse whatever appeal may have come off the industrial-pink from the meatproduct, or the not-from-nature maize a knock-off Kraft single may possess.

It may seem as if I am asking too much of the free catering, but I assure you that is not the case. I'm an eater who tends to ask very little in the way of the high falutin' variety of goat cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes and shaved truffle garnishes. It is with shame, however, that I looked upon these sandwich imposters to find not a thing of interest. Is it so difficult to purchase a higher grade of bread than what you're feeding your toddler? Can you give your culinary audience credit for knowing that a true bread is meant to have a crust so rich and delightful that it may as well be called a husk? Are you so lazy and food cost stingy that you cannot approximate a meat, cheese or other filling product that did not come marked down from the discount bin?

On behalf of all those who went hungry instead of trading satisfaction for the sheer act of the chew/swallow, I demand in no uncertain terms that the word "sandwich" be removed from the descriptive title of your pathetic offerings. And bring on the roast beef.

For more posts by BG you can visit his site @


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