I drafted the first entry for this blog over a month ago. I knew without a doubt that it had to be about my sandwich, my dear sandwich that I’ve eaten almost every (work)day for the past year. Quite ironic in that despite my deep, deep love for food—all kinds, any kinds—I have, for some reason, been perfectly content having this rather boring sandwich day after day. So when I finally decided to go ahead with this blog, I wrote up an entry on it. It had been sitting in my computer as I made up excuses about getting around to posting…until now. The impetus? The closing of this sandwich shop—marking the end of an era (to me, at least)…and, the beginning of a journey in food writing.
At this point I have to admit I’m a little embarrassed to reveal the name of this sandwich shop, but here goes: Subway. That’s right, you heard me. I realize it’s a humble feature for a foodie blog, but perhaps that’s why I’m ok with it—good food writing should be able to transcend basic, even boring ingredients, right?
- 6-inch wheat
- 2 slices turkey
- 2 slices ham
- 2 slices provolone cheese
ABOVE INGREDIENTS TOASTED
- shredded iceberg lettuce (or baby spinach instead)
- 2 slices tomatoes
- bell peppers
- banana peppers
- red onion
- 1 strip of spicy brown mustard
it tastes better than it looks…honestly.
When done right, the result is a well-balanced marriage of flavor, texture and temperature. Toasting brings out the flavor of the meat, particularly the smokiness of the ham against the relative blandness of the turkey. Cheese gets melty, adding a subtle toothy bite that ultimately holds these flavors together. Adding the vegetables afterwards keeps their fresh taste and texture nicely in tact. Shredded iceberg lettuce becomes a bed that protects the bread from bleeding tomatoes (when I’m not up for an overly crammed sandwich, I’ll sub the lettuce for baby spinach – more nutritious, less volume). On top of the greens go 2 slices of tomatoes for juicy freshness. Bell peppers add more of an earthy freshness…similar to what cucumbers might provide, but crisper and cleaner, with less of that straight-from-the-dirt taste. Banana peppers add the pickle of a jalepeno without the over-powering heat. Red onion on top adds more of a fresh bite that balances the tang from the peppers. And, exactly 1 strip of brown mustard provides moisture and finishes everything off with a nice, mellow spice. In short, a harmonious, healthy, yet filling package of goodness that can carry me over through most of the afternoon.
When not so lucky, I would end up with any combination of the following:
- woody, hoovish stems from hastily sliced banana peppers
- mushy, grainy, pasty tomatoes and/or slices with the stem butthole left on
- overly crisped edges of toasted bread that scrape the roof of my mouth
- watery mustard spit-up
The reality is that usually, I was not so lucky, so I’d end up fishing out the above-mentioned grossities with chopsticks (helpful tip: don’t chuck unused chopsticks from your last Chinese food order—they come in handy when you need to doctor your sandwich but don’t want your fingers to smell like mustard).
So there it is: my tribute to the “Caroline Special,” as dubbed by my co-workers. A humble sandwich from an over-exposed, unexciting franchise that actually, over the past year, has brought me a tremendous amount of comfort. Perhaps it was just the routine, the comfort of knowing that I didn’t have to leave the building to get my tasty-enough sandwich since the stand was just 2 escalator rides down from the office, or maybe it was the joy of passing Wok & Roll and being able to get an Orange Chicken sample before I reached the Subway line…whatever it was, the closing of the Manhattan Mall food court is the end of some good times. I accept it though, as I begin this blog…and actually, it’s for the best. I mean, it’s fine to start with mall food, but really, I’d like to be able to take you guys to more exciting places…
RIP Subway, 901 Ave of Americas, Low Level Food Court, New York NY 10001