Are you the kind of person that finds yourself dropping normal codes of behavior in the face of something extraordinarily delicious? (and if not, what’s your secret?).
Most of the time, I feel like I can be counted on to be fairly courteous, somewhat compassionate, and at least passably read social cues and respond appropriately. I play nice, give others their due, go with the flow.
Notice the usage of the modifier most.
When, however, I am in the midst of either a paucity or abundance of said deliciousness, I seem to forget myself. All Emily Post-niceness and good form goes out the window. And then out of said window, good form finds a grubby little motel, pays in cash for the night, and refuses to call her parents to check in.
In the case when deliciousness is in short supply, my unbecoming behavior always begins with the knowledge that I am not alone in recognizing something really scrumptious and that means requests for sharing. Knowing my company, I brace myself for the inevitable request. “Ooh, that looks great. Can I have a bite?
Okay, but how much I have left will determine how graciously or ungraciously I acquiesce. If I am only one or two bites in and much of the journey still awaits me, I can be pretty civil, and on a good day, I may even be the first one to jump in to offer a bite.
If, however, I am nearing the end of my edible bliss and then you jump in, I will probably still accede to the request but don’t expect me to look enthused by your late interest in my food, and I will most definitely be watching you like a hawk to make sure you don’t overstep your bounds (one new love interest made the mistake of finishing a particularly memorable meatball sandwich of mine and that was one of the last meals we ever shared.).
I am worse than a 3 year with a brand new Lego set – I am a greedy little wench and sharing is not something I want to do.
Same goes for abundance. If I am overwhelmed with volume on an especially toothsome morsel, I find myself in the throws of gluttony—and I just seem to forget what is appropriate. I want more, more, more – and convention and niceties be damned.
Take the bat mitzvah of one of my dear friend’s daughter. I knew it was being catered by Meat Cheese Bread (a sandwich shop that also does some catering) and I had heard raves about it, but had yet to stop by their tiny Buckman neighborhood spot. When I got to their party and I saw all the gorgeously laid out sandwiches during the event (turkey with avocado and bacon, beet BLT, and flank steak sandwich with pickled onion), I delved into one sandwich and then another and then another, stopping only to enjoy some red wine and the stellar potato salad (also from MCB) there.
When, at the end of the evening my girlfriend told me I should take some leftovers home, I pounced. No, “Oh, I shouldn’t – you have relatives in town (which she did).” Not a single demurring “Maybe just one – all that will hold for your husband’s office.” No. It is like I forgot decorum – and I crammed that little to-go box with as many steak sandwiches halves as I could fit in one box. Understand, I didn’t say how many I could comfortably fit in the box, or how many would be appropriate to take, but literally, as MUCH FOOD AS I COULD FIT IN THAT BOX. I didn’t care that they were getting mashed – I was laying them all sorts of ways so I could maximize filled cubic inches, leaving nary an unfilled inch unfilled.
Ever seen a clown car empty its contents? That’s what it looked like when I opened up that box at home later as my husband watched slack-jawed with equal parts horror for the gluttony and begrudging respect for the inventiveness with which I approached the problem of such a small box and such a big appetite (word to the wise: pretend that the box doesn’t close and use napkin to disguise bulging contents, much like a pulled out shirt over pants that won’t zip up. Not that has ever happened to me. Ever.).
Truth be told, those 6 halves of sandwiches were all I ate for the next 24 hours. I didn’t care what anyone else in my family ate—I made the kids a morning smoothie (somewhere between sandwich half one and half two) and I was done cooking for the day – I told my husband to pick up a pizza and make himself his own sandwich as I didn’t think I had enough leftovers to share with him. Nice sharing, right? (I warned you it wouldn’t be pretty).
I had steak sandwiches with coffee in the morning, I had them with a Diet Coke throughout the afternoon, and I had them with a glass of red wine at supper. Even though they were getting a little soggy the day after the event, they were still delicious and when I was finished with the last one, I felt suddenly sad. I missed them. Like a paramour who visits for a long weekend and then afterward when you suddenly find yourself alone, you find yourself pining away. Reliving all the good moments, a happy loop of memories– in this case, my loop just happened to involve globs of blue cheese and crunchy Ciabatta.
A week or so later I remembered them and reminded myself that I am an adult (by name only, sometimes) and that the good times didn’t have to end. I sent my husband to go retrieve some (“remember those sandwiches I was too greedy to share fully? You can change all that with one simple drive”) and I was back in sandwich business. Did I want to try some of the other sandwiches that were surely as deserving as their steak brethren? No. Park Kitchen Sandwich was all I could dream of – with a side of that stuff-me silly potato salad that I remembered so fondly.
I have been back probably six or seven times in the three months that we – I am talking about Park and me—first met, and each date is as memorable as the last. A sandwich’s success hangs on its bread, and the Fleur de Lys Ciabatta roll that holds it all together is a solid team player with the broad, solid shoulders required to hold it all together and the soft, fluffy interior necessary to sop up all the blue-cheesy, vinaigrette-y goodness. They say it is flank (although it looks like finely shaved roast beef to me, but who cares, you can call it the guano if it tastes that good) and its thinness perfectly holds all the juices herein and intermingle saucily with the pickled red onions. Each bite hits the notes of tangy, rich and pickled – you provide the mouth, MCB provides the party.
Take a minute to take it in. See that little glob of blue cheese inside that tangle of dressed greens? Not every bite will taste of it, but when you bite down on it, imagine it like a flavor grenade—ready to detonate an explosion of tangy creaminess. The pickled onions offer a piquant respite from such richness while the steak offers the chewy backbone. It’s that balancing act that has me intrigued every time (like the best steak salad you could enjoy given a big Ciabatta hug).
Oh, and that potato salad! So few do this well, and this one rules the roost. Cherubic red potatoes cooked until tender and then some, allowing them to mush slightly and hold all the kick of vinegar (wine or white vinegar?) and flavored to the hilt with a preponderance of green onion. It is a strong enough public speaker than it can perform without an assist from another or crib notes. This is a side salad with sex appeal and I dare you to take your eyes off—or fork out—of it.
Is it ridiculous to post a review based on one sandwich? Ask the Louvre marketing department if they are comfortable using a pic of Mona Lisa as a representation of the caliber of art work displayed there. And not to quibble, ( which of course means I am about to go quibble-bonkers on you)’ I’ve had three of their sandwiches and one of their sides and they are exemplary if not of exalted Park status).
Will I try other sandwiches from MCB? Yes, eventually. I am very curious about their much lauded green bean, bacon and egg sandwich – and I hear their breakfast burrito with green chilies and scrambled egg knocks it out of the ballpark, too. Even the front desk guy who knows my husband lol too well has not so-gently recommended it might be time to branch out, try dating new sandwiches for a while.
But allow Park and I have to but a few more times together. And for God’s sake, out of the sharing zone. As Yoda might say, Alone, we must be.