I have a theory on sandwiches. My theory is that sandwiches are the handbags of food. How so?
1) They fit perfectly into your hand and thus are an amazing accessory.
2) Everyone always wants to know where you got one.
3) They come in a wide variety of styles and designs.
Granted, I have many a favorite food in the world, but the sandwich is probably the top one. In a way, they’re a comfort food to me. If I’m in a restaurant with a menu of too many options and don’t know which to pick, I usually look to the sandwich section to guide me to where I need to be. This section is extremely handy in that it usually comes in the lunchtime combo arena in which if I am really broke (which I usually am), I can not only get the sandwich but also something else paired with it like steak cut fries, kettle cooked potato chips, a garden salad with field greens or a soup. Not every other food in the world can be paired with these sides and make it work like the sandwich.
I really shouldn’t even like sandwiches to the degree that I do, to be honest. When I was in high school, I worked two jobs at a Panera Bread and Subway. Panera was the weeknights, Subway was the weekends. I did this for four years. Calling me a sandwich artist at this point feels like it’s a title for beginners – I was a sandwich connoisseur. I knew bread from asiago focaccia to tomato basil and which breads got sliced thin and thick. I understood the balance of too much chipotle and just enough basil pesto. My cheeses, I was well acquainted with. Give me your goudas, your Swiss, your cheddar and blocks of American. Meats and vegetables, I’ve got ‘em covered (for a long time I was the only person brave enough to cut onions on a regular basis – the trick is to chill them overnight to avoid tearing up). My skills even played out well on the Panini press front. There was no sandwich too complicated for me to master. Not even that god-awful Subway Feast that rolled out for a short while featuring basically every meat our store had to sell stuffed in it.
You can’t work in the food industry forever though (or so we all hope and pray), so I quit both jobs when it was time to move onto college. Mostly because my university wasn’t located in the same state. College at first was kind of lonely for me so I would go out on the weekends and walk around to explore the area. And this was where I found a local Subway. Now, damnit Heather, you’re probably wondering, why are you going to Subway when you literally just quit your four years working there a week ago! Aren’t you sick of it yet?
Nope. To me, it was something familiar and safe. It was like this thing one of my old coworkers once said about working there. Your entire life could be going up in flames and there could be nothing good to turn to, but Subway man, you always had Subway to rely on and that small portion of your life wouldn’t change.
This is also true of the sandwich in general. A sandwich can be complicated and messy or neat and tidy. You follow a set of rules to create it. In life, there are no rules that guarantee that the end result is going to feel right and end up okay. But when it comes to cooking and making sandwiches, you know that for one moment you’re in control of making a small facet of someone’s life pretty darn good as well as your own. Sometimes you mess up, but you know what that’s okay too because it’s just bread. They’re only ingredients. Throw it out and start all over again. And once you get it right and take the time to accommodate the needs of others, even yourself, you know you’re golden.
I stand by the sandwich. From BLT to avocado and turkey, it brings us all together. And I guarantee you if you order one on the menu, it will be the envy of the table. Particularly the ones available at this time of the year (hello, grilled cheese) with a soup side.
The handbag of food, you see.