If you’re wondering why I would take the time to post a recipe for a simple salami sandwich, I assure you that there is a very valid point behind this entry. The idea stemmed from a comment in a twitter conversation that got me thinking about a few things. That idea simply could not go without being written because I think that it pertains to every food blogger in existence at least at one time or another.
This post is dedicated in particular to my good friend Judy from No Fear Entertaining. It was a the following tweet that got me thinking about food today. In particular, it got me thinking about what food is good food, and what is worth serving to family, friends or acquaintances.
I was checking my twitterstream when the following popped up from Judy (You are following her on twitter, aren’t you?):
@nofearentertain Dinner tonight: Ham and salami sandwiches…I suck :-(
Of course several of us chimed in to say there was absolutely nothing wrong with this idea as a meal (To be entirely honest, I was contemplating the sandwich above long before she brought the subject up), but the statement itself got me thinking about food bloggers and how the act of being a food blogger changes our idea of what food should be. It also started me thinking about how it changes our perspective in relation to every person out there who might someday read what we’ve written.
Regardless of whether we make our money directly from our writing, food bloggers are in a sense professional foodies. We follow the latest news in food, chefs and restaurants. We seek out unique and pristine ingredients. We insatiably follow food trends and at times even create the trends that the rest of the world follows. In one way or another we define our lives in the food that we eat, the places we congregate and the meals we prepare, but in the process we disconnect ourselves from the world at large.
The quest for perfection that we engage ourselves in has an unfortunate side effect for almost every one of us at one point. It causes our focus to shift from what good food is at its core to a strange belief that the ingredients make the dish. Nothing is farther from the truth. The primary ingredient in great food is the love that goes into it, not whether or not the cheese used on the side was organically cultured three miles underground and cased in fine port for seven years. (Though that does sound lovely!)
Art Smith attributes his success as as a chef to preparing the food he loves with all the love he can. The world seems to agree. Art is acclaimed for his dishes. They aren’t fancy. They aren’t pompous. They aren’t even gourmet in the fashion that most would consider a meal called gourmet food. They’re just good modern interpretations of good old fashioned Southern American meals.
Take the humble sandwich above. Today I think nothing of it. It’s something I might make on any given day. A simple assemblage of ingredients that are invariably on hand in my refrigerator and pantry. On any other occasion I would have enjoyed it without ever really appreciating it, but the thought of what makes up a truly great dish placed it firmly under scrutiny.
To a foodie it’s a simple sandwich. To my younger self it would have been a gourmet extravaganza. As a child I had never experienced such things as spicy brown mustard or shaved Parmesan cheese. Romain lettuce was something you found as a garnish on plates at some of the better restaurants, not something used on a sandwich. Parmesan cheese came in a green shaker can that went in the fridge next to the Miracle Whip and grape jelly.
The sandwich above was as far from my experience as escargot. I wouldn’t have gotten it. It would have been gourmet in the extreme.
That is not to say we didn’t eat a lot of salami sandwiches. Growing up in the primarily Italian California wine country gave me the opportunity to eat a great deal of salami. It was generally enjoyed with sourdough bread from the Sonoma French Bakery, arguably some of the finest sourdough in the world, and some wonderful aged cheddar from our local delicatessen, with a hint of mustard and all the love my mother could put into it.
I never noticed that it wasn’t up to par.
So to all food bloggers out there, and to any aspiring foodie who may find themselves looking at the ingredients list before they look at the faces around their table. Please don’t forget what the real meaning of great food is. It’s not the ingredients. It’s not the cost, nor the complicated French method necessary to create the sauce. It’s the love that went into the making of a dish that gives it value.
So to my good friend Judy I say again; There is absolutely nothing wrong with serving ham and salami sandwiches for dinner. They may be more appreciated by the younger members of your clan that would a perfect Coq au Vin, they’re a lot less complicated to make and I have no doubt in my mind that when prepared in your household they are infused with all the love in the world.
Food is love. Let us not forget that in the details.
- 2 slices sweet French bread or San Francisco or Sonoma sourdough bread
- 1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
- 8 to 10 slices Italian dry salami
- 3 slices ripe Roma tomato
- 2 or 3 Romaine leaves, torn to fit bread
- 1/8 ounce aged Parmesan cheese, shaved
- 2 to 3 grinds black pepper
- Assemble in order of ingredients. Consume mass quantities with friends, family or Parental Units. May be served with iced tea, your favorite Rose, Soda, Beer or whatever else turns you on.
- Share and enjoy
What I would have done Differently had I thought of it at the time:
Name it. Add pickles, onions, change out the cheese, bread, salami or any other ingredient. Serve warm, cold or room temp. Masticate only. Do not bend, fold, staple or mutilate. Your results may vary.
Links to other recipes like this: