From the mailbag: Foodstuff

Chris Wilcox asks:

If you had a sandwich named after you at your favorite deli, what ingredients would you want on that sandwich? I was thinking about this question for myself recently (smoked turkey, bacon, tomatoes, jalapenos, and chipotle mayo on potato bread, in case you were wondering) and thought I’d pose this question to a true Sandwich Expert to get his take on the issue.

We tackled this (also from Chris) on the podcast, but here’s the text version of my part of that: I had a sandwich named after me at the deli where I worked, DeBono’s in Rockville Centre, N.Y. And though I’m not sure it’s still on the menu, I imagine if you go in there and ask the right person for a Berg’s Pepper Barge, they’ll make you one — assuming they’ve got pepper ham in stock, which isn’t always a lock.

Berg’s Pepper Barge was the product of some deli-man lunchtime experimentation, with input from my old boss Jay. It was pretty simple: Pepper ham, pepper turkey and DeBono’s fresh mozzarella, with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and optional roasted red peppers. Good stuff. If I were putting it together now I’d probably throw on some hot pickled peppers for a little more spice and crunch, but I think it was a noble effort for a 20-year-old kid creating sandwiches for love.

What sandwich would I want named for me at a deli today? Good question. All my favorite delis growing up were run by Italians or Germans, and it so happen that my mom’s Italian and my dad is half-German (also half-Scottish, but I’d prefer not to incorporate Scottish food on any sandwich named for me). So I’d probably want to experiment with a combination of Italian and German deli staples to come up with some deli sandwich that somehow embodies my deli heritage. So like, I don’t know, something with black forest ham and soppressata? I don’t know. Much like Giuseppe Franco, I don’t want to put my name on an inferior product, so I’d like to experiment first.

As for a non-deli sandwich, I’d be fine with that Chicken-Fried Steak sandwich with bacon, country gravy and jalapenos from the first Sandwich Show being sold as “The Ted Berg” somewhere. Get on it, humanity.

Worth noting: Brett’s working on the second episode of the Sandwich Show now and it should be done within a couple of weeks. If it’s anywhere near as good as the sandwich it produced, it’s going to be outrageously awesome. I can’t stop thinking about the sandwich. I got professional help.

Andrew writes:

What are your thoughts about sandwich thins? These, for example.

Well they’re not Plan A, but I’ve had them and they’re not terrible. I have enjoyed the linked sandwich thins while dieting in the past. Now that I’m married I’m less likely to go on late-night bread-eating binges (grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, etc.), so I can keep bread in the house and try to trim down all at the same time. Plus the bread my wife likes isn’t much worse for you than the sandwich thins, so I go with that.

Patrick writes:

Why is it that the Mexi-Melt is given little to no love. It’s the most under appreciated Taco Bell menu item if not fast food menu item of all time. Explain this?

Wait, who doesn’t love the Mexi-Melt? It certainly gets its fair share of respect around these parts, and I know it’s a pretty standard go-to among several of my Taco Bell eating friends. But if it isn’t in other circles, I suspect it might have something to do with cost efficiency. The MexiMelt is generally 20-30 cents more expensive than a soft taco, depending on where you are, and for that you’re getting no more meat or tortilla, less lettuce, fiesta salsa (which I opt out of anyway) and only slightly more cheese.

The difference, obviously, is that the MexiMelt is all wrapped up and melted together, and that’s something I think is worth paying a premium for. But I’ve a distinguishing Taco Bell palate and I’m willing to lay out big cash for choice American-adapted Mexican-inspired fast-food delicacies.

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