Waren Zevon, a man of great distinction, who for no other reason needed than writing the two of the greatest songs of all time Warewolves of London and Lawyers, Guns, And Money, gave a very poignant quote his last night on The David Letterman Show back when it was discovered he had terminal lung cancer. Warren so eloquently said “Enjoy every sandwich”, well with our old good friend Warren in mind we are going to try and help elevate that experience by making sure you pick the right tools of the trade to make that sandwich the best it can be.
5. Mayo/Mustard- In my personal opinion the lone condiments, of the basic condiments (no bacon jam or banana ketchup need be considered here) that should ever be added to a sandwich are mayo or a nice good deli mustard. Ketchup can go kick rocks and hide back in the Buffalo Bill well that Chicago hot dogs has it hidden in.
4. Pickle/Salad- Now I’m not talking the basic LTO on the sandwich, I’m talking something that really sets the sandwich apart. Take some fresh vegetables and brine them, or a quick slaw of some sort. In Vietnamese Bahn Mi’s this would be the pickled carrot, daikon, and cucumber medley that really makes the sandwich pop. Or likewise the briny bold olive salad amongst the great muffulettas of down in Dixie Land. For a great representation of what a salad can bring to the table check out the Grilled Pork Bahn Mi from Nam Nam in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY or if you are down in New Orleans, LA The Original Muffuletta at Central Grocery is definitely worth checking out.
3. Cheese- Cheese being one of the best things ever created in life it makes perfect sense to “sandwich” (see what I did there) it right in the center of the list. The main need of cheese is to add one and often two properties, flavor and occasionally texture. The flavor is a given for any sandwich but the texture comes in key when you start messing around with some high class ooey and gooey and creamy cheeses, such as mozzarella. Fine examples of what cheese brings to a sandwich are the Grilled Chicken #1 at Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Somerville, MA or in Hoboken, NJ, The C at M & p Biancamano.
2. Protein- Basic sandwich math here, you can’t have a real sandwich without some meat in the middle of it, hence why the idiom has become so wildly used for generations. Whether it be the finest or Italian cold cuts, some thick slabs of Jewish brisket, or even shall I dare say some densely smoked tempeh (dare, dare) the key focal point of a sandwich usually starts and ends with what comes smack in the middle. For a hipster vegan smash hit (that coming from a bacon die hard) is actually fairly delicious check out The Vegan BLT at Little Skips in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. For those of the more meat inclined you can never go wrong with The Turkey Reuben at Strip T’s in Watertown, MA.
1. The Bread- The structural integrity is held together by this carb king. But isn’t the engineering feet alone that has this staple at the top of the sandwich pantheon, it’s the need for the right bread to compliment the sandwich in the right key areas. Are you eating a big old sloppy joe and need some solid crusting to hold in the slop, or need a soft slice of rye to gently pillow in tender corned beef, the coupling of bread to accoutrements is key in every way. Now in maybe not so surprising fashion my top sandwich spots for bread also happen to be national chains (or at least fairly prevalent in the Northeastern US). For the best breaded sandwich head to your nearest Jimmy John’s or Wegman’s supermarket. As someone who fell in love with both sandwiches at the same time, you will not miss no matter what you put in between two behemoths of the bun game.