Pre-Made Sandwiches?

I have a dream. I want to start up a New York deli in London, where anyone can get any sandwich they want, made-to-order. The deli would, of course, also sell pizza by the slice.

I've been feeling a bit homesick recently and it seems to have manifested itself in a real irritation with the British love of the pre-made sandwich -- particluarly pre-made sandwiches heavy on the mayonnaise. With no choice in the manner. Even ham and cheese sandwiches are coated in mayo, while they should so clearly have mustard on them, if you have to choose a condiment.

I probably wouldn't have become so irritated were it not for the fact that the one sandwich place in Canary Wharf that I liked and that actually made sandwiches to order (although they would still give you the hairy eyeball if you asked for anything even slightly wacky) struck my favorite sandwich off the menu. It was essentially the closest thing to a meatball parm sub that I have found in London and I believe I was probably the only person in all of Canary Wharf ordering it. Sans spinach of course (which was their 'recommended' combination) and with cheese instead.

Did I handle it with grace? No. I screeched, "but that was your BEST sandwich!" followed up by a scathing, "Well, you've lost a customer." I don't think the people at 'Baguette' even batted an eyelid as I turned on my heel and walked away. People are never surprised by the behavior of Americans abroad, really.

Thing is, although I'll definitely miss my pseudo meatball sub, I think it was a bit of a scapegoat for my general feelings of homesickness lately. For some reason, I seem to associate Italian-American cuisine with my love of America, which is strange because I have no Italian roots. I suppose it's
just my comfort food. When the Hub and I had our brush with watching Jersey Shore last summer (we loved to analyze Sammi and Ronnie's complex relationship) I believe I enjoyed it mostly because they were constantly chowing down on things like Chicken Cutlet and Baked Ziti – dishes that when mentioned here elicit a blank look.

Why the homesickness? It could be that this past week was Thanksgiving, which, like Fourth of July
always makes me a little sad. Or that I have recently been thrust into a new role at work, which although a good thing, is new and therefore stressful and my routine has gone amok (more on this soon). Or, maybe it's just because I haven't been back to the States in a year.

What's interesting, however, is while most people might just say they feel a bit sad or in a rut, ex-pats have a very convenient scapegoat. There's always something concrete to blame the malaise on. For me it's the loss of the meatball sandwich. And tomorrow it will be mayonnaise-coated ham at Pret. But the truth is that sometimes we just feel sad or stressed for no real reason at all -- and sometimes that's hard to stomach, almost as much as excessive amounts of mayonnaise.

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1 comment

  1. I feel like that about Sweden at midsummer time. Totally with you on the meatball sandwich, wished I known about it before it disappeared. However, I hope you're not planning to have pret's ham sandwich tomorrow because we are going for lunch. Pick the most American eatery you can think of in canary wharf!


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