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Too Many Cooks: The Best Sandwich, Once and for All.

By • June 21, 2013 • 41 Comments

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You'll be hearing from the staff at FOOD52 every week in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more. 

Bacon and Egg Sandwich

The latest issue of Lucky Peach includes the following quote from James Beard:

"One of the great American arts, which varies from being a triumph to being a disaster, is the art of sandwichmaking."

It's true -- a perfect sandwich results from almost-unattainable simplicity. Everyone has their favorite, and their own opinion on what makes a sandwich great. And really, summer is sandwich season. So this week, we asked:

What, in your opinion, is the perfect sandwich?

Things got pretty heated, and our staff showed their passion for putting stuff between bread. We start with team BLT:

Brette: BLT!!!! 

Michael: I agree with Brette: the BLT, with generous mayo to protect the bread from the tomato. But it's a high-wire act: I feel lucky if I have two great ones in a year. (And if some avocado snuck its way in there too, I would not complain.) 

Michael: Shoot. I just remembered the bahn mi, and also the lobster roll, and now I dispair of ever choosing.

[Editor's note: this inspired a full-on brawl in our office re: whether a lobster roll is a real sandwich. Discuss amongst yourselves.]

Will: I have a series of haikus called "The Bacon Series." Here is the sandwich poem:

Bacon, soft white roll,
Lettuce, tomato, mayo.
My perfect sandwich.

Amanda: I've never met a sandwich better than the BLT. It contains all the crucial elements: sweetness, crunch, salinity, pork fattiness, and juicy flashes of summer. We learned a vital BLT tip from 'Wichcraft -- toast one side of the bread and place the toasted sides on the inside of the sandwich. This way you get crispness without cutting the top of your mouth. Although a few BLT cuts are probably more authentic.

Jason: Obviously I love a good BLT, but my all-time favorite sandwich is turkey, tasso ham, prosciutto, creamy gouda, red onion, arugula, salt and pepper, a little mayo, and honey mustard on a super crusty roll. #yumtownusa

EmmaTuna melt. Hands down. Every time.

Jennifer: Mozzarella, tomato, basil, and prosciutto on ciabatta bread drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.

Ryan: I'm in the same camp as Jennifer. Fresh mozz, basil, any salty cured ham, and olive oil on something crusty. Cold or hot pressed -- I don't discriminate.

Lauren: The bahn mi.

Amanda Li: PB&J on whole wheat, because that makes things healthy.

Maddy: Open face tomato and mayo sandwich on an english muffin (the rounds of tomato fit perfectly, see?). With a good dose of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  

Marian: Crusty sourdough bread. Aioli. Juicy tomato. Avocado. Salt salt salt and pepper. They do it well at Sandwhich [sic] in Chapel Hill, NC.

Lindsay: The sister to Marian's sandwich: A toasted Zingerman's enough already bagel. Japanese mayo. Juicy tomato. Avocado. Salt.

Sarah J: Sweet: cinnamon raisin bread with bananas, honey, and peanut butter, pressed and warm. Savory: grilled eggplant, roasted tomato, muenster cheese, and muhammara on herbed focaccia (otherwise known as Z&H's Marty). 

Kenzi: Lobster roll. Also: BLT, extra mayo. 

Hannah: Maple almond butter (we're not on a first name basis or anything but I like Justin's) + really ripe banana. On any kind of bread that makes the whole house smell like yeast.

KristenGrilled cheese -- sharp cheddar, or whatever! -- with sliced tomatoes.

Margaret: Turkey, bacon, avocado, alfalfa sprouts, and aioli on a whole wheat wrap, toasted. My kind of heaven. Maybe some spinach if I want to feel healthy, but I don't usually get those kind of compulsions.

Stephanie: I have to play it simple. Tomato, butter, and salt on toasted bread. It's perfect. 

Merrill: Truly painful to make this decision. But since no one has mentioned it, I do love a good French ham with soft Brie, on a hard baguette spread with (cold) salted butter. A few cornichons wouldn't be out of place.

Bryce: I might have to go Muffaletta. 

Karl: Pulled pork with North Carolina-style vinegar sauce topped with coleslaw. The Reason is probably my favorite implementation.

Beatrice: Maryland blue crab crab cakes on a bed of frisée topped with a dill caper remoulade sandwiched between a lightly toasted and buttered bun. #BestSummerSandwich

Amanda Li: This TMC reminds me of the 30 Rock episode featuring the Chuckle Sandwich. And this quote:
Liz: I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich.
Jack: How surprising that your world view is food-based.

Tell us: what's your favorite sandwich? And how do you define a sandwich, anyway? Do lobster rolls and hamburgers count? Go ahead -- get worked up about it.

Tags: Too many cooks, summer, sandwich, blt, liz lemon

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Comments (41)


almost 2 years ago Dianne T

The bsst summer sandwich, an everything bagel toasted with mayo,thick slice of Vidalia onion and a generous slice of vine ripe tomato.


almost 2 years ago JM

I don't have a "best" sandwich, as much as I have sandwiches of the month. My current favorite is a modified grilled cheese with pepper jelly, goat cheese and bacon: http://www.myfoodandotherstuff...


almost 2 years ago ChrisVeros

My favorite sandwich of my own creation is called the BAMO: Bacon, sliced apple, mayo, and thinly sliced red onion.

My favorite of someone else's is definitely the tuna sandwich at 'Wichcraft: tuna, green olive, fennel, and preserved lemon. It might be the most perfectly balanced sandwich ever created.


almost 2 years ago MQAvatar

Picking the "best" sandwich is like picking your favorite child: it just feels wrong to pick one. That said, I cannot believe that nobody has yet mentioned the Roast Pork with broccoli rabe and provolone from Tommy DiNic's at Reading Terminal Market. It is pure genius.
Otherwise, I'll take a bahn mi variation every day for the rest of my life.


almost 2 years ago Jenn@

Porchetta Sandwich from the RoliRoti food truck, hands down.


almost 2 years ago ChrisVeros

Porchetta! In NY we have the eponymous purveyor: http://www.porchettanyc...


almost 2 years ago Midge

Softshell crab between two slices of squishy white bread!


almost 2 years ago Gret

Yummm, that one too!


almost 2 years ago lapadia

Yikes everybody! Let's not forget about the leading photo that enticed me to click on to this feature in the first place = a contest Winner


almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thanks so much Linda!


almost 2 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I have been eating avocado, fresh picked still warm tomato that is salt and peppered, alfalfa sprouts, mayo AND mustard - specifically Dusseldorf mustard - on whole wheat literally 3-4 days a week since the tomatoes started coming in. Summer heaven sandwich


almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

That sounds really good!


almost 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This one won a contest at Whole Foods: French Onion Sandwich, Hint: cheese and grilling are involved.


almost 2 years ago lapadia



almost 2 years ago Lindsay-Jean Hard

Lindsay-Jean is a Contributing Writer & Editor at Food52.

Sign me up, that sounds fantastic!


almost 2 years ago Gret

For summer sandwiches I like to put away the bacon. Give me tuna, mixed with chopped hard boiled eggs, chopped celery, a bit of diced red pepper,a little chopped sweet onion, with good mayo on a brioche roll with sliced tomato & lettuce. But nothing beats a lobster roll or a sandwich of smoked fish with sliced out of the garden tomato on a really good roll (with butter).


almost 2 years ago ZombieCupcake

Egg, banana and peanut butter on a whole grain bagel I called it my 5k pre game sandwich or turkey pesto with feta cheese on toasted tomato basil bread


almost 2 years ago ZombieCupcake

Oh on the turkey I forgot to say with strawberries


almost 2 years ago Barbara Merker Nickerson

How about liverwurst, Dijon mustard, tomato, garden lettuce on When Pigs Fly multi grain cornmeal bread? My favorite!


almost 2 years ago vvvanessa

The #3 at Laurelhurst Market in Portland, Oregon. It's an Italian meat and cheese bomb: ham, salami, provolone, oil, vinegar, peperoncini, iceburg lettuce, and "special sauce" on ciabatta. I think the special sauce is serotonin.


almost 2 years ago lapadia



almost 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Toasted multigrain bread (I love the idea of only toasting the inside!) slathered with lemony hummus, filled with arugula and thin slices of tomato.


almost 2 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

sexyLAMBCHOPx is a trusted home cook.

I'll take a patty melt, no onions, extra pickles, please.


almost 2 years ago Gildy

They all look good, I really should extend the range of sandwiches/rolls that I make, I nearly always end up with salad...


almost 2 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

My favorite? Any of the above, as long as someone else makes it, and brings it to me, along with a cold beer.


almost 2 years ago dymnyno

How about a nice rose'?


almost 2 years ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

I'm with you, dymnyno.


almost 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This take on a tuna melt is my go-to, whatever the season:


almost 2 years ago sharontalb

Fresh roasted turkey, sprouts, tomato, red onion, swiss and tarragon mayonnaise on freshly baked sourdough!


almost 2 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

In the summer, it's 2 slices of Oatmeal Bread ( toasted, with homemade mayo, thick slice of heirloom tomato and another of avocado and a leaf of crisp Romaine.