I love a good sandwich. And when I say “love,” I truly mean that.
There are few things I look forward to more than a devilishly-enticing sandwich that has the potential to satiate and satisfy my salivating taste buds with a punch in the mouth via Flavortown. This is no light statement coming from me; I consider myself somebody who loves life and all of its varying and expansive elements to the fullest extent, so for me to get down on my knees and praise the sandwich as one of the top things on this Earth is kind of a big deal (yes, I’m referencing “Anchorman”). Yet, what I consider to be a bigger deal is the variation that a mean sandwich can offer autonomously.
The sandwich is an ethereal creation given to us by none other than a divine being (the first sandwich was actually created by the Earl of Sandwich, John Mantagu, and I believe he should take Jesus’ place as the only heavenly form to ever walk on this Earth) and it should be regarded as such. As TNH Managing Editor Ian Lenahan said last year in an op-ed, it’s deserving of an ode, and then some. Those two slices of bread, with their tricky and deceiving countenance, can be manipulated and crafted in such a variety of creative and innovative ways. That mysterious middle – oh, what a sweet mistress she can be – can take the thesis of the holy sandwich’s dissertation in so many different, flavorful ways.
This isn’t an Ian-style ode to the sandwich like last year; no, this has much more personal bias and is another attempt to honor the sandwich’s pristine legacy. This is my Mt. Rushmore of Sandwiches: my favorite four sandwiches I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. This wasn’t an easy list to make, but let me ask you this: was the Declaration of Independence an easy document to create? Answer that question, and you’ll understand the stress I’ve been under trying to give each and every sandwich I’ve ever enjoyed its just deserts.
The best I could do is to celebrate four, and while you either may not agree with my list or may not have tried each sandwich on the list, the least you could do is respect the list for the sake of the sandwiches themselves. It’s about time we give the sandwich its roses; if we wait too long, we all could be eating holographic meatloaf like Plankton and it’d be too late.
Grandma Lily’s Sloppy Joes
My Grandma Lily makes a hell of a sloppy joe, and this is probably (definitely) an understatement. The awe-inspiring meat that constitutes this one-of-a-kind sloppy joe sits in between sesame seed buns, which do their part as a sweet and delicious compliment to the crème de la crème of sandwich fillings. That filling, which rests between those dastardly delicious buns, contains a seasoned ground beef that could drive even the sanest man to the madhouse in one bite. The savory ground beef is plump with spices, juices and a desire to be instantly housed. Bits of the moist meat contain a lingering tangy flavor and a succulence that will inevitably drip down your forearms by the end of the meal. This sloppy joe interestingly offers quite the contradiction; its veiled nature shouldn’t taste half as good as it does, as the lumps of meat don’t reveal their true magnificence until they explode onto your taste buds like little machine guns of zest.
Grandma Lily’s Sloppy Joes are simple, to die for and most of all, make you want to eat a bare minimum of four sandwiches in one sitting. All I can say is thank you, Grandma Lily, for blessing my life and the rest of the Jagoda’s lives with one of the best sandwiches known to man. If you haven’t tried Grandma Lily’s Sloppy Joes, which I’m guessing about 99.9 percent of you haven’t, seeing as I’ve never noticed any of you at my family gatherings, your quality of life is significantly worse than mine and I holistically consider myself a superior being for having tasted this sloppy elixir of life.
The Hot Foot Clubfoot Sandwich at the Staggering Ox in Helena, Montana
I’ve only tasted this delicacy of a sandwich once (which was over winter break), but if you ever find yourself in Helena, Montana for any reason at all, make sure to find your way to the Staggering Ox, an eatery that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back into a restaurant in Portsmouth – complete with its unique retro feel, vinyl hanging from the ceiling and abstract couch-art that build up the atmosphere’s feng shui nicely.
The real attraction, though, is their unique sandwiches: they’ve trademarked them as Clubfoot sandwiches, which is really just a coined term for bread that is made and sculpted in a can, giving the sandwiches a flat bottom and corkscrew outer shell. In this way, it’s part wrap, part normal bread, part divine intervention. Regardless of the minutia, these sandwiches hit a little bit different. The Hot Foot is filled with savory salami, spicy pepper jack, a handful of fresh lettuce and, as they put it on their website, “a very hot and very special jalapeño filling.” Paired with the Sunday-Tuesday-Friday bread of the day, the jalapeño cheddar bread, this sandwich is equal parts molten hot as it is fulfilling.
There’s not much else I can say about this enchanted piece of kitchen poetry except to advise you to get to Helena ASAP, if only to irrevocably shove this thing into your mouth and forever change your life course.
Grilled Cheese Hamburger at an Undisclosed Colorado Location
When I was 15, I visited my cousin who at the time was attending the Air Force Academy in Colorado. As people do, we decided to go out for lunch when he explained to us that he had caught wind of this delicious burger joint down the way that used meat patties and breads the way Picasso dabbled with paints. Being typical sandwich-loving Americans, we immediately agreed to take on the venture.
Now, this was almost five years ago now, so many of the details have disappeared into the grey matter sitting in between my eyes, but all that really matters is this: I ate a hamburger sandwiched between two grilled cheeses. Meaning, one grilled cheese was one bun, and another grilled cheese was another bun, and in between was a hamburger. Granted, my arteries almost instantly clogged on the spot and I had a face-off with Death in the parking lot after promptly killing that beast of a burger, but it remains one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.
I’ll repeat it just so it’s clear. I ate. A hamburger. Between two grilled cheeses. It was immaculate.
Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe at Wendy’s
Anybody who tells you they don’t like fast food is a liar who is on the highway to Hell. Wendy’s is my vice and is to me what cocaine was (and still is?) to Joey Diaz. It’s by far the best classic fast food place, although McDonald’s remains amazing and Burger King is a s***hole (aside from their Chicken Fries).
Regardless, the real thing I need to share with everybody in this paragraph is how to navigate a fast food menu. I learned this after a tennis match my sophomore year of high school from my boy Emil who was both high during the majority of our tennis matches and held a vast knowledge of fast food restaurant menus. As we approached the cashier, he came to an abrupt stop and shared with me a piece of knowledge as valuable as gold that I will never forget: he told me that you never, NEVER, under any circumstances, buy a full meal at a fast food restaurant for $8. Instead, you take that $8 and allocate it to 6 to 8 items on the dollar menu and have yourself a feast. Thus, my love of the Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe was sprung.
It tastes delightful, has all the fixings on it, is under $2 and is available all hours of the night for whenever your passion for burgers flares up. It’s an undeniable sandwich from an undeniable classic in Wendy’s, and while it may be terrible for your health, hygiene and fragile self-esteem, you can’t deny the fact that you can pay for it using the change in between your couch cushions.
Now that’s tough to beat.