In defense of sandwiches; or, Rise of the Bread Tories
“Surely, a loaf of bread is the centre of the parable of life” ~ yet more G.K. Chesterton
Indeed, there are few things I love more than a good sandwich. I love eating them, naturally, but I also love making them, piling them high with meats and cheeses, lettuce, an assortment of vegetables of various textures and flavors, all the different combinations of sauces and spreads. Sometimes they’re hot, sometimes cold. Sometimes they are dipped in things which can be hot or cold themselves: Au Jus, pesto mayonnaise, tzatziki, tomato soup.
And then there is the bread – the list of possible rolls, baguettes, sourdoughs, ryes, and other baked masterpieces is staggering – and wonderful. Joyous. The smell of baking bread is perhaps the closest we will ever come to the divine though only if we discount its taste, fresh and hot from the oven; a slab of fast-melting butter; the rapturous crunch of the crust.
My mother and two (three?) of her siblings have been diagnosed with celiac disease. It is amazing how many foods (not to mention beers) have gluten – that most innocuous of ingredients – and the villain of our post. Of course, in today’s world there are many options for those unfortunate souls who cannot eat gluten due to their celiac diagnosis, but let me be the first to tell you that these options are not terribly good ones. Better than nothing, true, but still rather lacking – rather shadows of those foods which they attempt to replace.
Rice noodles are fine for Asian dishes, but not so much for spaghetti. An almond crust is a decent substitute for a cheesecake’s typical breadcrumb crust, but there is something missing from it nonetheless. And bread…ah, therein lies the rub. I have yet to try a piece of gluten-free bread which does the food any justice whatsoever. I’ve even had fairly decent chocolate chip cookies which were entirely gluten-free, and yet bread remains elusive. Beer is problematic, certainly, but there is always wine. And yet wine without bread?
No, I can hardly countenance a world without bread, without sandwiches and hamburgers and rolls and biscuits and the rest. Fortunately I have not not (yet) been diagnosed with celiac disease myself, though it would appear I have a certain genetic predisposition to gluten intolerance.
For now I will treat bread the same way I treated it during the Atkins craze: as a close compatriot in my quest for the good life, as something close to sacred (and sometimes sacred indeed) – a daily delight and a sometimes sacrament. Sustenance and joy.
(And if anyone here has any tips on making the best damn sandwich ever please do share them.)