A few years ago, on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Rome, Amy and I snuck into a café a few blocks from St. Peter’s Basilica to escape the rain and the crowds, and to have a bite to eat. I had that day one of the best sandwiches of my life. It was a ham and cheese sandwich, only we were in Italy, so the cheese was sliced fresh mozzarella, and it had both olive oil and mayonnaise on it, and it didn’t go from deli case to my plate. My panino stopped in the panini press first, just to take the chill out. My stomach just growled just thinking about it.
After returning home, my sandwiches were inspired. La Crosta was my bread of choice that summer, and mozzarella replaced Land O Lakes American. I remember making Caprese salad and letting it sit at room temperature so the olive oil and salt and pepper could work their magic, and then making sandwiches with those slices of tomato and mozzarella to bring to the beach.
Eventually school started and Rome got further away, and I probably started eating salads for lunch. I do [heart] a good salad, and admit to having quite a repertoire of main course lunch salads that I bring to school—from my version of a taco salad: a plop of chili on mainly lettuce, to a trimmed down Cobb, to a blackened shrimp Caesar. I also like leftovers for lunch. Well, certain leftovers. And soup. You know how I feel about soup.
Yet every once in a while I get tired of having to plan for salads, or having the right container, or needing to stand in line at the microwave with my leftovers, whose flavor and texture fate is uncertain after removal from said machine and all I want is a sandwich. I find myself choosing rolls from the bakery bins, and then at the deli counter ordering roast beef, or turkey, or ham, and—dare I say—American cheese. Or I’ll make my curried chicken salad with mango chutney and Craisins and nuts or my Ina fave with grapes and celery. Lettuce usually finds its way in to my sandwiches, even if it’s starting to brown and no longer appetizing enough for a salad. If I have leftover bacon, well, do I even need to tell you? Oh, and I love my mother's bread and butter pickles on a tuna sandwich (but only on a tuna sandwich).
That’s what so great about sandwiches—you can put in it whatever you want or have and you can make up your own rules. Only meat touches mayonnaise, mustard touches cheese, you know, that sort of thing. Make the masterpiece and it’s totally portable. All the food groups held in your hand and delivered in one bite. After another.
Oh how I [heart] a good sandwich.