This is not a lie--most every time I cook dinner, I consider how much sandwich potential the leftovers will have.
Seriously, last night at the meat counter, I opted for a 1.5 pound porterhouse over the other appealing steak options so that I would be guaranteed enough beef to make a couple sandwiches, too. I currently have a reminder set on my phone to go swipe bread from the test kitchen later today--because this girl is having a steak sandwich for dinner tonight. I hate national food holidays, but damn, do I love sandwiches. Or in my speak, sammiches.
And today is National Sandwich Day, so I felt it was only right to take a moment to applaud this wonderful, versatile, portable, meal construct I hold so near to my heart. I think I love sandwiches so much because, at the end of the day, there's no universal rules or fences applied to them. The only specifications that matter are the ones you apply. The right way to make/enjoy a sandwich is what feels right to you. There's no limit to what can go between to slices of bread; you have an open canvas for experimentation. Every time you build a sandwich, you have the opportunity to build a unique reflection of your appetite--a custom creation to satisfy specifically your what your crave. Every time you build a sandwich, you build a dream, realized.
There are countless fond sandwich memories I could share, but the time I learned that a ham sandwich is made better by cheese is the one that stands out most to me today. I was 4- or 5-years-old and in the middle of my Saturday morning routine of watching cartoons on the couch before anyone else was awake. Scooby-Doo was on and it came to one of those moments where he and Shaggy slipped away from their group and their mystery-solving to make a snack--a towering deli sandwich. I vividly remember the sensation of mouthwatering desire I felt towards that stacked-as-hell cartoon sandwich. I needed it. And being a wee child with no parental supervision... I decided I would have it. I went to the kitchen, grabbed our loaf of Sunbeam and some packaged ham from the fridge, and using the little culinary skill I had in my Kindergarten years, proceeded to construct 4 ham sandwiches (a couple of pieces of generic, water-packed lunch meat sandwiched between 2 slices of white bread). Just as I was finishing stacking the 4 sandwiches on top of one another to build my version of a giant super-sandwich, like the one my fictional animated muses devoured before my hungry eyes, my dad came in. Startled and slightly panicked, I waited roughly 5 seconds while he surveyed the scene. He asked what I was doing. I told him I was hungry and so I was making a big sandwich. My dad shrugged, took the ham back to the fridge and came back with a stack of Kraft American singles. Then he delivered the kind of fatherly wisdom that sticks with you, "Adding cheese makes a giant ham sandwich taste even better." My dad and I sat on the couch, watched cartoons, and ate ham and cheese sandwiches for breakfast that morning before anyone else was awake.
So yeah, I love sandwiches. And in honor of National Sandwich Day, I asked for other folks around the office to share their sandwich love, too. Here are some sandwich thoughts, feels, and favorites from our staff:
I have feelings about sandwiches. And rules. Here are 5 of them.
- Sandwiches are not salads. Yes, you are striving for balance among the layers, but sandwiches are not about nuance. When dealing with assertive flavors from ingredients like Dijon, kraut, pastrami, and so forth, the key is to strike a balance among the extremes as you meld sweet, sour, salty, fatty, and spicy.
- Texture is important. If there’s no crunch or snap in your sandwich from the bread, lettuce, or pickle, at least have potato chips on the side to account for the texture. Or better yet, put them in the sandwich.
- Hot sandwiches like panini and grilled cheese are best griddled over low heat so the bread and the melty filling both cook at the same time. (Rule 3b. Don’t take hot sandwiches to go.)
- A good sandwich maker honors and covets his or her condiments and keeps them in ready supply.
- A sandwich invariably tastes better when someone else makes one for you.
I’m a Subway lover through and through. There’s something to be said about how when you walk out of a Subway, even if you only spent 5 minutes there, your clothes will smell like Subway bread for hours afterward. This chain is the ultimate fast, kinda-healthy, sandwich-centric place, and I’ve loved it since I was a kid. (Remember when the walls were designed like newspaper??) My sandwich of choice is a turkey footlong piled high with veggies and smothered in creamy Sriracha.
--Jessica Colyer, Production Assistant, MyRecipes
I’m a huge sandwich lover. I love the concept of piling things that may not go together between two pieces of bread. I have to say though, that my all time favorite, always give me the warm fuzzies – is the simple grilled cheese on white bread with a side of hamburger dill pickle chips. I get such satisfaction of seeing that cheese pull and the pickles cut the richness of the melted butter that has been spread on both sides of the bread prior to grilling. I’ve been a huge fan since childhood (which was a long time ago)!
--Alice Summerville, Assistant Managing Editor, Cooking Light
My Fave Sandwiches: the classic club sandwich, turkey melts, and who passes up a rueben? I also have to admit that I went through a phase in high school where I came home from school every day and made myself and my neighbor a meatball sub. Twas quite the after-school snack.
My Personal Rules of Sandwich eating: 1.) It doesn’t matter if its toasted or steamed--but it has to be warm. It smells better, tastes better, and makes me feel more full. Theres nothing sadder than a cold sandwich. You might argue and say that classics like pb&j’s are meant to be served cold… and to that I say, you’ve obviously never had a grilled pb&j.
2.) The bread makes all the difference. A sandwich on fresh bread versus a sandwich on the processed, bagged stuff--you can’t even compare. A sandwich is technically 2 parts bread and 1 part fillings---make the majority count.
3.) Don’t be shy with the toppings. If theres ever an option to get the sandwich “all the way," you should definitely go all the way. Peppers, lettuce, tomato, avocado, special sauce, spicy mustard, yummmm. In respect for whoever crafted your beautiful sandwich, don’t remove toppings. Eat it hows it’s written on the menu.
--Hannah Burkhalter, Fellow, MyRecipes
Just a few sporadic sandwich thoughts:
1. I don’t understand people who don’t like mayonnaise or mustard. Dry sandwiches are the absolute worst.
2. My mother makes the best sandwiches of all time. She truly has a gift for piling food between two pieces of bread--and that is not just some dumb, backhanded, “Go make me a sandwich, mom.” comment. I’ve never made a sandwich that comes even close to measuring up to hers—with the perfect amount of mayonnaise and mustard, the ideal ratio of meat to cheese (always fresh from the deli), fresh crisp lettuce and sometimes a juicy tomato slice, and sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, parmesan and oregano, and sometimes even oil and vinegar—and I know I never will.
3. I second Hunter’s comment that sandwiches always taste better when other people make them.
4. I also believe a toasted sandwich always tastes better.
--Emma Crist, Assistant Editor, MyRecipes
When making a PB&J, my dad taught me to put peanut butter on both slices of bread so the jam doesn’t make the bread soggy. Critical and pivotal moment in my life.
--Jennifer Skarda, Art Fellow, Cooking Light
When it comes to sandwiches, I like to keep things very plain. Whether bologna, ham, or turkey, it’s a simple layering of a slice of meat, then cheese, and another slice of meat on top. From there, it’s all about mayo--lots and lots of mayo. I’m also the picky eater who doesn’t eat the crust around the bread. Something about those brown edges makes me panic, and I don’t even want to know what it tastes like. Oh, and always on white bread—cheap, thin white bread slices that stick to the roof of your mouth when you take a bite.
I’m also a creature of habit, in that I buy the exact same sandwich from Subway, no matter what location. My go-to order is a Spicy Italian on white bread with mayo, yellow mustard, American cheese, salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar. None of that fancy stuff like banana peppers and lettuce. The sandwich artisans behind all the counter always give me a puzzled look for such a drab order that doesn’t involve any healthy veggies, but I say the more meat and cheese, the better the sando.
--Michelle Darrisaw, Editorial Assistant, Cooking Light and MyRecipes
Favorite sandwich of all time: grilled peanut butter and bacon. This is the special sandwich of my childhood. My dad made a mean grilled cheese, but on special occasions he would produce the magical grilled peanut butter and bacon sandwich. What could be better than sweet, creamy, melty peanut butter paired with salty, savory bacon between two slices of delightfully grilled white bread, always white bread. Mmmmm.
--Liz Rhoades, Production Director, Cooking Light
Sandwiches, filled with anything are amazing. Almost any meat, cheese, condiment, and bread combo is amazing because it’s an envelope of YUM. A drop of hot sauce amps any sandwich up to the ultimate SPICY ENVELOPE OF LOVE.
--Nicole Gerrity, Senior Designer, Cooking Light
When I was a pre-teen and just trying to figure out this whole cooking thing, along with exploring veganism, I created a magnificent sandwich that quickly became my go-to. It was incredibly messy and left the eater with horrendous breath, but it was all worth it. The sandwich was a combination of a bunch of “new to me” ingredients that my family had written off as gross. Olives, tofu, and hummus were all foods that I started exploring then and eat regularly now, probably thanks in part to this sandwich.
To create the ultra smelly vegan sandwich: Toast two slices of whole wheat bread and spread each with a little garlic hummus. Stack on tomato slices, black olives, chopped sweet onion, and baked tofu. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil before smashing the whole thing together and subsequently down your gullet.
--Hayley Sugg, Assistant Digital Editor, Cooking Light
First of all, apologies to CL.com Editor Kimberly Holland, but if it doesn't have mayonnaise on it, it ain't no sammich. My favorite doesn't have a particular protein, but it will always be freshly toasted bread (sourdough if I can get it hot out of the oven), thickly sliced tomatoes (sorry again, Kimberly!), a nice swath of mayo (Duke's if I've got it), and some melted cheese. Also important—horseradish mustard! I like a little twang to my sammie, so if I can get my hands on a jar of Weber's Horseradish Mustard, that's definitely going on there.
--Matthew Moore, Editorial and Community Manager, Cooking Light Diet
My love for a good sammy knows no bounds. A sandwich always comforted me when I was living in New York. I would go and get all my favorite toppings, spreads, and fresh bread from the Gristedes and build myself a mile high turkey sandwich. Always made me feel like I was back home.
--Daniel Boone, Senior Digital Designer, Cooking Light and MyRecipes