Two people divided by a couple of pieces of bread

Whether it’s a sarnie, a butty, a filled bap or a crusty cob, I’ve mentioned before that I love a sandwich. And I’m fairly evangelical in my love of the bread-based snack product. So much so that I’ve even managed to convince The Special One to try (and enjoy) pre-packaged grated cheese and onion sandwiches.

However, our recent trip to the UK has revealed that there will always be a couple of essential differences between the two of us when it comes to the fine art of the sandwich. We’re working through it in counselling now, but I thought it was best to share the information with the group, so that fellow transatlantic partners don’t have to go through the same trauma. May our hell be your salvation.

1. All sandwiches, regardless of type of bread, filling or chosen condiment, start from essentially the same point from my perspective: remove bread from packaging, and slather in butter. This is not optional. The only exception to this rule is peanut butter, but given that peanut butter should never be used under any circumstances (least of all on a sandwich) so that shouldn’t pose any problems. Weirdly the only sandwich which The Special One has ever used butter on is a peanut butter sandwich. There’s no accounting for taste. Or indeed, lack thereof.

Oh, and for the record, mayonnaise is not butter in a creamy white disguise. It is therefore not a butter replacement and should never be considered as such.

2. Apparently cheese’n’onion crisps may be considered by some to be an unacceptable sandwich filling. Likewise sage and onion stuffing, on some arcane principle that putting a breadcrumb-based product between two slices of bread is somehow ‘bread overkill’. I fervently disagree. Carbohydrates have their place, and that place is ‘on my sandwich, thank you very much.’

The tragedy is that despite these two foibles, The Special One is comfortably the greatest sandwich maker in America, and a definite contender for the world crown. Her ability to make a sandwich that satisfies to the very last bite continues to astonish me. Clearly we have had to compromise though. The compromise that works for me is that on the occasions she makes me a sandwich, I get her to tell me that she’s put butter on it. I then don’t open up the sandwich to check that she’s telling the truth, for fear that the grim reality might cause me to stop eating it. If a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy can work for the US military, it can damn well work for me.

22 thoughts on “Two people divided by a couple of pieces of bread

  1. Sven

    Crisps are acceptable, but I caught my sister making a bolognese sandwich the other day. Now that’s just a step too far.

  2. IanB

    Having just returned from my recent foray across the pond to see my own Special One I too feel your food-related pain.

    From my observations you’ve got away lightly; it would appear that whilst pleasantly immersing myself in American culture for the Christmas week I discovered where most of the world’s sugar supply goes to – in short; mid-Western America. It would not surprise me at all to find that the most popular sandwich filling in the US is called something like a “Rhode Island Delimure” or similar of which the main ingredients were, by order of weight: sugar, chocolate, cheese, cilantro (still not sure what this is), fourteen pounds of steak, eight slices of some kind of ham stuff you don’t recognise, cocopops and mushrooms and dried bits of noodle that look suspiciously like the puffy plastic packing stuff that falls out of boxes sent by a mail order company plus some sort of off-white sauce that drips on your shirt when you bite into the sandwich. The “bread”, of course, would not be a style of bread that we are used to over here although it will appear visually to be sneakingly similar.

    Worryingly, after the second bite I’d also start to believe it was the most tasty thing I’d ever eaten and marvel at the fact it only costs 6 dollars (whilst my American lady refers to it as “spendy but good”).

    All the better if it’s washed down with a mug of coffee hotter than the surface of the sun which has some sort of “creamer” in it that is usually the name of a biscuit (cookie, meh) flavour in the UK.

    By the way: do you know where they (America) keep the user manual for cooking eggs? So far I know of about eighty-two types of US egg cooking: over medium, over-easy, over-tricky, over-complicated, sunny-side-tanned-but-not-buff etc etc.


  3. Silverback

    I’ve yet to find a decent loaf of bread here but maybe I need to look beyond the bargain basement offerings on WalMart’s shelves. I miss my thick toasty bread. Actually I miss ANY bread with taste.

    And cheese and onion crisps IN a sannie….awesome. It’s just not the same having them on the plate next to the bread.

    I love the flavoured creamers you get here and I have asked the big 3 UK supermarkets to think about stocking it but so far, no joy. I think being mostly a nation of tea drinkers, flavoured creamer would be treated as sacrilegious. I just take 10 ‘jars’ of the Amaretto variety back home with me !

  4. Trixie

    If you’re trying to persuade TSO that carbs between bread is the key to emotional and physical salvation you must tried her with a chip butty?
    Has to be proper chips. Has to be white floury bread and it has to be butter.

    I’d say that’s a dead cert win?

  5. Dylan

    Sven – a bolognaise sandwich?? Just the meat, or the spaghetti element as well? I can ‘almost’ imagine the former, but even I draw the carbs-on-sandwich line just before the latter.

    IanB – I hear your pain, and let me tell you it will only get worse. Together we can get through this, though.

    Silverback – be careful with your love of creamer…there is a vague possibility that you’re becoming more American than British, and no amount of Corrie will get you back on course.

    And Trixie, I have introduced the concept of the chip butty, and had that door firmly (almost too firmly) slammed in my face. The look of disgust that crossed her face was something akin to what I would expect if I had just told her that the lasagne I had made contained minced dog.

  6. Karen

    Ah I have eaten many a bolognese sarnie, usually ran out of spaghetti by that stage, so it would be just the meat and sauce 🙂

    I haven’t had a decent chip butty in years!

    I am guilty of using mayo as butter on my bread 🙁 But only as our fridge is crap and the butter is too hard to spread!

  7. Trixie

    TSO is nothing short of crazy-mad. Sneering at the concept of deep fried potato between nutrition-less bread can only mean that she doen’t suffer from PMS.

  8. IanB

    I have yet to blog about the horror-filled looks I got from several nearby Americans when I “treated” them to a fry-up. They made the mistake of asking “what’s that” when I said “really what’s missing is some black pudding”. That’ll teach ’em. You’d think they would know better after asking about the ingredients of Haggis…

  9. Lisa

    My horror is that eggs are only made in 2 varying degrees of doneness in the UK: runny or fully cooked. I need to have my fried eggs over-medium. Otherwise, I will have to resort to Cream of Wheat with sugar, of course! 🙂

    I had hoped to get some sort of comfort in suggesting a poached egg, but heard laughing and something about “runny or fully-cooked?”

    Clearly, I need a “somewhere in between” checkbox.

    Butter on sandwiches…(no. just… no.) 🙂

  10. Expat Mum

    For some reason my kids won’t eat anything on toast. On the evenings when I can’t be bothered to cook a proper meal (ie. 6 out of 7) I continue to suggest beans on toast, poached egg on toast, sardines on toast, – anything. Finally the 13 year old last week asked “Mom, what’s with the toast?”.
    And those bloody sandwiches without butter – everything falls out when you pick it up!!

  11. Dylan

    Tomatoes on toast is one of the great inventions of the modern world. And mushrooms on toast isn’t bad either.

    The Youngest gave me the filthiest look when I first gave her beans on toast. Although not as filthy as when I gave everyone a jacket potato with beans and cheese on it. They like both of them now though…

  12. Esther

    When I excitedly introduced my US hubbie to a fantastic chip butty on Brighton pier (soft white bread, tons of butter, filled with fresh chips) he described it as the “most underwhelming food item he had ever had the misfortune to eat”. He too could not understand why I would put carb matter in bread.

    I don’t think he’ll ever get it.

  13. Trixie

    So us Brits seem to relish carb overload and conversely I’m always slightly repulsed by the ‘how many forms or protein’ style US sandwiches – beef patty, cheese AND bacon?

  14. Alasdair

    Bacon Roll – Scots bread roll with bacon – delicious …

    Sausage and Fried Egg Roll – Scots bread roll with the square-cut sausage and the egg with its yolk runny and the white barely firm – delicious …

    Black Pudding Roll – Scots bread roll with freshly-fried black pudding – to die for ! (with the wrong choice of parents, be warned, that *can* be literal ! Mine gave me genes which keep my cholesterol in the 130-140 range, even as I enjoy morning-after extra-cheese pizza as a health food)

    There is, of course, the other extreme – taking sliced meats, and making the breadless ‘sandwich’ with alternating layers of meat and cheese between slices of fresh tomato ! (Lettuce admit that greenery is optional)

  15. Lisa

    We’ve been discussing this post, Ian and I. I’ve decided I’m willing to try butter on a sandwich, assuming that there must be some sort of delicasy I am missing. (Besides… he tried corn dogs, so I owe him one.. ok, and donuts for breakfast)

    Normally, I leave my sandwiches dry, but they’re best with lettuce, tomato and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegarette. 🙂

  16. Dylan Post author

    Sarcasmom – we keep offering our services, but sadly no-one’s taken us up on it yet.

    Esther – The Special One is adamant that she will never eat a chip butty. I reckon that she’ll cave eventually, but we might be old and grey by that point, and she’ll look back on all those lost years with a definite tinge of regret…

    Trixie – I know you’re a veggie, but what I hate most are the sandwiches with approximately two inches worth of turkey or other sliced meat. I mean, I know it seems like it’s good value, but we all know that the sandwich is secretly all about the bread…

    Alasdair – I’d kill for a black pudding roll right now. The Special One insists on calling it blood pudding so that she/I can never forget where it comes from. She fails to realise that I don’t actually care – all I know is that tastes sooooo good.

    And Lisa, I laughed out loud when I read your comment. It’s very brave of you to try it. You’ll never look back…

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