Anatomy of a Sandwich

Noah Stults, Columnist

Sandwiches which have become a classic centerpiece of lunch, deriving their popularity from their convenience and ease of preparation. While it’s very simple to pull one out and start sinking your teeth into the soft bread, the next time you eat one, you should take more time to appreciate and fully understand its contents. Each aspect of the sandwich offers something truly special that gives it its unique flavor and reflects the personality of its maker. The bread of a sandwich is what gives it its shape and structure. The filling provides flavor and color. Obviously, both things are vital to the sandwich, but one has to wonder how a sandwich can be elevated when only made up of two simple things.

Bread is a vital part of the sandwich, and there is a massive variety of techniques to preserve bread and enhance its role in the perfect sandwich. Even if you choose the right bread, it becoming soggy and damp can jeopardize the harmony of the whole sandwich. According to Food Network, you should spread condiments on the bread to create a seal against wet fillings, like pickles and tomatoes. Another way to prevent sogginess is to toast your bread. Alternately, sandwiching the wet fillings between the dry ones spare the integrity of the bread. If you have the opportunity to consume the sandwich immediately after creation, the wet ingredients can simply be placed at the end.

There are various types of bread that provide many different flavor profiles for your sandwich. For example, if you need something fluffy and sweet, then brioche is the type of bread to solve that predicament. If you are looking for bread that lets the other ingredients stand out, then you can use a thin sliced baguette, which has a less prominent flavor but scores higher on texture. If you’re looking for something healthier, whole grain is a great option that can be paired with other ingredients such as leafy greens or even tofu.

The filling of a sandwich is equally important to the flavor. Without the filling, not only would the sandwich look boring, but it would also have a taste that matches its appearance. There are many combinations of fillings and, surprisingly, a correct order to put all the fillings in to guarantee a successful sandwich. Epicurious claims that denser textures like meat and cheese work better at the bottom of the sandwich. Vegetables and crunchy elements work better towards the top. Lettuce can be used throughout to create extra friction, which will prevent the dreaded sandwich filling slippage. Another way to avoid all your filling fall-out is to slice all your meat, cheese, veggies thinly. Then you can simply stack the ingredients.

One thing I personally love to put on my sandwiches is avocado. Avocado is a delicious fruit that provides a creamy texture and flavor to your sandwich. Other unique texturizing toppings include bean sprouts, guacamole, apple, peppers (of the bell, pepperoncini, or jalapeño variety, based on the meat), cucumber, and coleslaw (although immediate consumption is required to avoid soggy bread). Saucewise, switch up your regular mayo or mustard with sriracha, aioli, barbecue sauce, olive oil, or hummus.

In the end, both bread and filling must be considered to make a truly successful sandwich. Each component contributes equally to the flavor, texture, and appearance. Without the bread, there would be nothing to hold it together, and without the filling there wouldn’t be any color or flavor. The art of constructing sandwiches isn’t a thing that many people truly appreciate, but you must learn to be different than the crowd. Next time you make a sandwich, you should be thoughtful about what you are doing in order to successfully craft a worthwhile creation.