A few years back, I made the greatest New Year’s resolution in the history of mankind: eat more sausage. It had everything: simplicity (three words!), achievability, and purpose. For too long, I had shied away from the noble sausage for health reasons. No more – I was determined to savor the world’s vast, majestic array of delicious meats in tube form. I figured that as long as I exercised and ate well on my non-sausage days, I’d be fine. And so far, so good. I can still get into the same pants, and my health is great. (Actually, my cholesterol is higher than my doctor would like, but why let the facts ruin a good story?). And best of all, I’ve enjoyed (and even made) lots of great sausages.
But that resolution had a downside. I peaked too soon. Ever since, I’ve struggled to come up with a New Year’s resolution that I was even interested in making, let alone sticking to. I’m not the sort to make the “drink less, exercise more” kind of resolutions, and everything fun I thought of paled in comparison to the greatness of “eat more sausage.” Now, though, I’ve found the answer. In 2016, I’m going on a quest to find the perfect sandwich.
I love this resolution. Sandwiches, like sausages, are a culinary art form. Every great food culture in the world has its own take on both the sausage and the sandwich (often, superbly, together). And here in Portland, we’re blessed with a vast array of sandwich options. Does the perfect sandwich live here? I don’t know, but I’m going to do my best to find out.
So what makes the perfect sandwich? It starts with the bread, which must be fresh, and appropriate for the type of sandwich, as anyone who’s tried to eat a burger on a soft bun can attest. Next, there’s the meat, which anchors the sandwich, and gives it the base flavors that the other ingredients build around. Vegetarians will tell you that there are good vegetarian sandwiches too, and they’re right – as comfort food goes, it’s hard to beat a good grilled cheese and vegemite sandwich. But the perfect sandwich has to have meat. Other ingredients can vary, depending on the sandwich. Cheese will no doubt feature heavily, but it isn’t required. Whatever brings out the best in the meat and bread is fine with me.
Kim says my quest may be doomed, because I’ve already had the perfect sandwich and it isn’t available anymore. She’s talking about the Marseilles from the now-defunct Carafe restaurant. And she might be right. The Marseilles – Merguez, harissa, and French fries on a crispy baguette – was indeed a masterpiece of sandwich art, and might just have been perfect. But I’m an optimist. I’m going to seek out the perfect sandwich from what’s available today. I’ll report back periodically on this blog, with ratings and comments on the contenders. And I’d love to hear your suggestions.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go. It’s lunchtime, and I’m in the mood for a sandwich.