So this weekend I had some more revelations about the Unified Sandwich Theory. Of course, readers of this spot, and I'm not sure there are any, might be asking themselves "Just what is a Unified Sandwich Theory(UST), and of what does it consist?" Others will more likely be thinking "Why the hell am I reading this when I could be sandpapering my corneas?" This latter group, I'm thinking, will consist of those who have read my musings on the UST in the non-blog. Those in the former group I would direct to said non-blog. It's linearly arranged and not indexed, so finding the musings should prove maddeningly difficult, and so soon those readers, too, will feel like sandpapering their corneas. All things will then be equal!
The UST is my demented quest for a set of principles which might be understood to govern the creation and appreciation of a good sandwich, or maybe even a set of principles towards the creation of a perfect sandwich. Doc Nagel, of course, has been my partner in this lunatic scheme, and so far we have discovered the following:
- While many different combinations will produce many different and wonderful sandwiches, there is no real correlative good/bad combinations.
- While there are some condemnable practices-- meatballing, over-saucing, slip-layering-- some of these practices have their uses (in, for instance, the meatball sub, which requires all three of these practices in order to be a good meatball sandwich).
- One of the major revelations, that a UST put in practice in a chain restaurant setting can succeed or fail based on the chain, has lead me to wonder: who the fuck cares?
Which is not to say that I've given up. I'm far to sick and disturbed to just "let go" like that. And even though it might not ever lead to publishable academic writing-- and don't put it past me, I wrote about the Beatles for an academic publication, for Christ's sake-- it's still pretty fun to play with. For instance, this past weekend . . .
Well, firstly, we-- El Wiferino, niece Cayla, the Dog, and myself-- made a lengthy hike around downtown Charlotte this past Saturday, ending up at a joint called Rudino's we quite like. They make very good calzones, the love of which is something La Cayla and the Wifey have very much in common, and they make good pizza, which I was dissatisfied with the first time I had it because, I have decided on reflection, I was in a picky mood that day. But this time I decided I wanted to try their take on the Grinder.
Now, there is supposedly some kind of distinction to be made between hoagies, subs and grinders, but the three times I have been presented with a set of those distinctions, it was in a chain joint of one stripe or another and the distinctions were clearly bullshit. So I don't sweat it. I figured that what got served up at Rudino's was likely to be both good and a little bit kinky, just based on the tenor of the place-- they serve 40-odd beers, the cooks bring the food to your table, they have tall tables with stools so if you feel like eating standing up you can, etc-- so I took a flyer and ordered their take on the Italian sub.
Which was quite good: spicy ham, salami, mustard, mayo, lettuce, onion, tomato, and then here's the twists: served on chiabata bread, toasted warm, and with a layer of melted provalone cheese studded with crumbled Italians sausage on one side of the bread. Totally incongruous, but hoopy!
About a third of the way into the sandwich, though, I concluded that, according to the UST, this would be the wrong choice of bread. The thing held together well enough-- and I'm talking about actual structural integrity here, people-- but only with a fair amount of tending, meaning taking three or four successive bites before putting the thing down to take a swig of beer, then poking bits and pieces back into it before picking it up for three or four more bites.
But it was good. It was sooooooooo goood! And, I thought to myself, maybe that's the thing. Maybe what I'm really after is a set of rules that are meant to be broken; a guide that allows for chiabata bread to be used in spite of it's limitations. And if a set of principles is that complex and nuanced, that flexible and meandering, what purpose would it serve? And then there's the other thing.
We went to see the Serenity movie one last time before it left the theaters (making a total of two viewings since the film premiered), and ended up having an early lunch in the food court of a mall. Based on some sheerly practical factors-- visibility of product, readiness of staff-- we ended up selecting Burger King. I normally would have ended up at the Nathan's Famous stand, usually because I know I can rely on the product, but the kids behind the counter there clearly didn't have it together at 11:18 in the morning on the Sunday of Daylight Saving Time, and had that strange combination of panic and slacking that only service in a Fast Food Outlet can provoke. Also, the Wifey wanted to try these new Chicken Fries that BK now serves up. Myself, I was hungry, and so ordered, for the third or fourth time in my life, a double Whopper with cheeze.
It was good.
Man, was it good.
Towards the end of the sandwich, which had been hot and juicy and greasy and stacked with lettuce, tomato and onion, and almost-but-not-quite dripping with mayo and mustard, I had a bite that was unsatisfying, but other than that, it was just exactly what I wanted. It wasn't one of those tasteless monstro-thick-burgers, which I have tried and have concluded that they are only made for people for whom the experience of eating a burger the size of their head can convince them that this thick slab of gray beef tastes like more than cardboard. It was good, real, fresh, greasy burger, and I loved it.
Of course, I'm good on the double Whopper for the next however long. I don't crave Burger King the way I sometimes do other foods, but still. It was good. But here's the point: back when we started this whole meshugina thing, or shortly after, I proposed banning this kind of contraption for consideration, on the grounds that a burger isn't really a sandwich. I had some kind of wacky parameters and exceptions set up that justified the separation of burger and theory, but they were clearly artificial-- what I said about the distinction between hoagies, subs and grinders? Same thing. Because a burger is a sandwich. It is even, when you get right down to it, an specifical theoretical construct. It is even, when you get right down to the very gist of it, an ethereal form of a sandwich, an archetypal, even mythic, sandwich. But how does one understand a burger. To ask which portion of the burger contains the Buddha . . .
So perhaps there should be a portion of the UST that should be firm and inflexible, indelible and eternal? But then, wouldn't that cease to be a theory? Wouldn't that ascend to the status of natural law?
And do I want to be responsible for that?
Indeed. These are the questions that try men's souls. The contradictions that speckle the universe with doubts. But I haven't given up. Nooooooo. Far to twisted for that. The merry chase goes on!