Friend of the site and fellow sandwich enthusiast Ted Berg has been working on a new series for the new year: What is a sandwich? The first post tackles a piece of meat in a starch — nori-wrapped Korean beef — that was, nonetheless, not a sandwich in his verdict.
Let me suggest something that may throw a wrench in the works: portability. After all, open-faced sandwiches are not only “stupid,” they have a French name: tartine. And why was the sandwich created if not for portability and ease of ingestion? Clearly, portability is part of this thing, even if it doesn’t end up in the definition.
Consider my sandwich last week. I had some leftover soy-vinegar-sugar-garlic salmon, and I thought it would go really well on my sesame seed bagel. I threw in some tomatoes, spinach, avocado, sriri-cha, and black pepper, and then I drizzled the remaining sauce over the bagel. Oh and I crisped the skin in the broiler and put that on top. It was quite the inviting sandwich:
Maybe the title gave you a hint about this sandwich: it was anything but portable, even once I smashed the second bagel half on the top of the thing. There was only one place to take the thing, and it was over the sink. I inhaled it, and it was great, but it was not portable. I was a mess afterward and felt like taking a shower.
I’ve heard similar things about Ike’s Place sandwiches, which I need to try, but are obviously still sandwiches. And maybe it’s not a part of the definition: after all, I think even open-faced sandwiches are sandwiches, and they are not portable either.
But portability is, at the very least, an axis upon which sandwiches may be judged. Because this was a great sandwich, but it if it was served to me in a deli, and I returned to work int the state in which I was left after eating it, I would be rightly and roundly mocked for my appearance. Burgers sometimes take a hit from me if I can’t get to the end of the thing without it disintegrating into nothingness in my hands, and we already learned today that a burger is a sandwich.
So, sandwich: yes; portable: no.