Why Open-Faced Sandwiches Are Stupid
Whether called open-faced sandwiches or the more gentile French term of “tartine”, this food is mystifying to me. This past Saturday I went to a local eatery that specializes in tartines and other pseudo-French bistro fare to get lunch. I wanted to eat in the park, though, and while they have great-sounding tartines, they also have baguette sandwiches for takeaway only. I got a cheddar baguette and minutes later was sitting on a park bench working out my front teeth plowing through the rough Parisian bread. And I thought, even though the fig and ricotta tartine sounded good, it would have been a fright to eat out of doors on a wooden park bench.
I imagined pieces of fig bouncing off the bread only to be nabbed by the fearless squirrels that feast on everyone’s leftovers in this busy city park. I was impressed with the beauty and portability of a sandwich. Bread on both sides (either a loaf cut in half of two slices) and the filling in the middle. The ultimate, portable meal that’s been utilized time and again by the traveler or the busy and overworked. It’s said the Earl of Sandwich struck upon the concoction when he was trying to work and needed a free hand. Its sheer portability gives the item its right to call itself a sandwich. Anything without this does not. Open-faced sandwiches are colorful and fun but there is no portability or ease of eating them. Their multiple toppings teeter on the brink of oblivion if they’re picked up, almost forcing the luncher to pick up a knife and fork, taking the lunch food into the realm of upper crust snobbery as in Seinfeld’s Mister Pitt eating a candy bar with utensils. Is this the right way to treat a lunch food? I suppose the tartine could be engineered in some way to encourage the toppings to stay on it whilst lifting it like a noble savage instead.
I guess something could be done like serving it hot, maybe with cheese, the melted goo acting like a sort of glue to hold things on. But then I guess something else already exists, a slab of bread on the bottom and the main event being the topping instead, the hot cheese holding everything on. But then it exists under another, noble name– pizza.