2009-03-22

The hiearchy of Sandwiches

Growing up, I think I ate a sandwich nearly every day. Peanut butter and honey was a staple, as was peanut butter and mom's strawberry freezer jam. Tuna fish was rarely acceptable because it didn't age well in your backpack from 8 am until noon (fish + mayo + lettuce + room temperature = soggy and smelly).

The real travesty, though, was the cold cut sandwich. I'm not sure how it happened, but I never learned how to make a proper sandwich using sliced meats. For starters, we used margarine instead (no mayo) and "kinda" cheese (Kraft singles, which are only "kinda" cheese). Forget any lettuce, tomatoes, or mustard. It was just 3 or four slices of pressed chicken product between two slices of white bread. And, to be honest, I liked it! Sometimes I'll still make one when I'm feeling nostalgic. But this is not the kind of sandwich that will win adulation and affection.

Fortunately, I discovered the real sandwich when I started working. It was then that I realized that I don't tolerate fast food anymore. I have a once per month quota on anything from McDonald's, Burger King, Arby's, Taco Bell, etc. (Well, that's not true, I could probably eat Five Guys several times a week, but that's another post entirely.) What, then, is a hungry young professional to do?

Become a sandwich snob, that's what. If you go easy on the milk based condiments, its damn hard to make a sandwich unhealthy. I used to eat at Subway 3 or 4 times a week. At least. Grilled chicken breast on wheat with spinach, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, vinegar and oil. Awesome, totally non lethal, and 5 bucks. Life was blissful.

And then I ate at the Subway Shop in San Diego. You've probably never heard of it, probably will never go, either. But, they make the best sandwich ever. Hot pastrami on 2 inch thick marbled rye with provolone and mild peppers. This is when I realized that Subway was really no better than the cold cut and margarine sandwich.

Since the Subway Shop, I've been on a quest for the perfect lunch sandwich. It must be inexpensive, tasty, easy to pick up (in both ways), and not so full of triglycerides that my Dr. can buy a new pool based on my future medical bills. And I think I found it at Jimmy John's:
  • Tasty: French bread that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Bread is the KEY to a good sandwich. A JJ sub, filled with toppings together well enough that you can eat it while driving on the freeway with a manual transmission. Not that you should... They also have something that a lot of places are missing -- the avocado!
  • Inexpensive. Less than 5 bucks for most sandwiches. To be fair, the sandwich is 4 inches shorter than at subway, but what sense does it make to measure food by the inch?
  • Easy to pick up. Online ordering people! ONLINE ORDERING. Get on the web and you can tell them EXACTLY how you want your sandwich. No line, no sandwich artist with a tenuous grasp of the English language, and then you walk in and and walk out. With online ordering, you don't need a drive through.
  • Healthy. Sure enough. They advertise 4 sandwiches with less than 5 grams of fat. I would guess that most don't have much more. As always, you've got to avoid the mayo for that to work. Not a problem for me, because the bread isn't sandpaper-ish.
Well sheesh. This turned into a stupid advertisement. Lame. Sorry about that, but I really do like a good lunch sandwich. If you're like me, and you want to grab a quick lunch you can eat in the office, where do you go?