When I was 13, and went to Europe with my family, I learned about sandwiches. There, sitting at a sidewalk cafe somewhere in France, my father suggested I have a ham sandwich. The long piece of baguette arrived, split down the center, generously buttered, with one layer of boiled ham. There may have been some gruyère involved as well, and I remember a couple of cornichons on the side. It was a revelation.
I had always loved sandwiches. Like most of you, I grew up carrying peanut butter and jelly (or apple butter, or honey, or even molasses) sandwiches in my lunch box to school. They were soft affairs, made with bread that came sliced (whole wheat in my case). By lunchtime the jelly soaked all the way through the bread, making the sandwich look a bit like a map.
I even have fuzzy memories of eating butter and sugar sandwiches (how luxurious that sounds now!), or fried baloney on gray California days, with a cup of steaming hot Dr. Pepper. That was an unusual occurrence, and I still don't quite trust that memory.
Unlike many of you, I never tired of sandwiches; I still think they are the perfect food.
Those French sandwiches were simple things, bread and filling. I rarely ate meat sandwiches at home, perhaps because we rarely had leftover meat? This meant I never got much of a taste for meat-cheese-mayonnaise-mustard-pickle-onion-tomato extravaganza sandwiches. That sandwich in France had everything I hungered for: the crunch of the baguette, the butter insulating the bread, the slightly salty ham--just enough, never a thick pile.
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