It’s interesting to wonder how many human beings, at this very moment, are biting into a sandwich. Even more so to assume that if there is a higher form of intelligence, it probably lives on sandwiches, because this food is perfection. So many questions and so few answers.
We will try here, humbly, to set in stone the universal rules of the sandwich, or at least the ones we know.
A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square
Here is a rule that can be transferred to sandwiches. A bánh mì is a sandwich, but not all sandwiches are bánh mì.
It is interesting to note that some sandwiches have carved out a place for themselves in the collective imagination, in the world of ideas. They have become entities in their own right.
Think, for example, of the hamburgers, smoked meat sandwiches, bánh mìs, club sandwiches and grilled cheeses of this world. These sandwiches, which were originally considered commonplace, have risen to such a high level of public esteem that they have earned a title of honour – a “appellation contrôlée”, so to speak.
But it’s still very important to get back to the basics of what defines a sandwich. Here is what we know:
1- A sandwich is eaten with the hands
2- The bread of the sandwich holds the ingredients that constitute it
3- A sandwich cannot be completely closed
The equilateral sandwich
The sandwich is perfect when its three components are at their peak. We are talking about the bread, the protein and the condiments. When these three elements are of high quality and perfectly matched, the sandwich is usually delicious.
The sandwich as a prism
Some masters succeed in creating an ethereal form of the sandwich. This kind of food surpasses the idea of a sandwich: it is divine. We are thinking here, for example, of the use of advanced techniques for cooking a meat, of exceptional condiments, of breads shaped by the hands of great bakers.
Admired by all, such a sandwich often makes the reputation of an establishment, a city, even a country. Think of the famous Philly cheesesteak, the Belgian mitraillette, Montreal’s smoked meat, or the New Orleans po’boy!
Is there a perfect sandwich anywhere on this planet? Is a hot dog a sandwich? Is a wrap a sandwich? Is a smørrebrød a sandwich? Is a gyro a sandwich? Is an Oreo a sandwich?
So many questions and so few answers… and so, the debate continues.
On my deathbed, let someone bring me a sandwich. It doesn’t matter which one, just a sandwich!
Special thanks to all my sandwich hunters.
Written by Gabriel Belzile