Jeff Lagasse

Jeff Lagasse

Some events are lost to history. They remain mysteries, forever shrouded by speculation and conjecture. In 1937, pilot Amelia Earhart disappeared during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe in her Lockheed Model 10 Electra; something happened over the central Pacific Ocean that was known only to Earhart, and for nearly a century, her vanishing act has been the subject of debate. Similarly, it remains unknown what freakish natural force turned Donald Trump’s hair from a hohum set of everyday follicles to a rabid animal that feeds on the scalps of gasbag nincompoops. The parallels are uncanny.

And so it is with the World’s Greatest Sandwich.

Its origins are an enigma. Not even a full list of its ingredients remain. All I know is that, one ordinary day in college, I walked over to the sandwich bar and concocted a lunch so breathtaking, so utterly perfect in its conception, that time has transformed it into legend. To me, anyway. Actually, I may be the only one who knows about it. But still.

They say college is all about experimentation, and they’re right. Trying new things is what led to the World’s Greatest Sandwich. At my college, the sandwich bar was a cornucopia of all the standard fair, mixed in with a few oddities: deli meats, various salads, and a handful of trays brimming with what I can only assume were droppings from the sphincter of an extremely large and unhealthy cat. Somehow I took these simple foods and cobbled together a masterpiece, which statistically speaking should never have occurred. The fact that it did happen is some kind of miracle, on a par with witnessing a shooting star while sitting on the shoulders of a flying leprechaun.

That’s how it is sometimes with sandwiches, though. What an amazing concept they are. “Sandwich” is one of those words that doesn’t mean just one thing; one can be drastically different from the next, varying in quality, content, and its tendency to make our breath smell like a moldy rag dipped in bear saliva. You take two slices of bread, throw some random culinary detritus between them, and voila! Their adaptability is what makes them such a perfect food item. Not like meatloaf, which is generally consistent, or pineapple, which sucks. Every sandwich is an opportunity to be creative, which is why there are roughly 10.3 bazillion amazing and ridiculous concoctions out there – like the baked bean French toast sandwich. Featured on Today.com, this dripping, oozing affront to health is basically a shovelful of baked beans and cheese shoehorned into a French toast bun, which altogether promises to stop the heart of a sub- Saharan elephant. While the beans are a nice nod to the human body’s need for protein, the rest is specifically designed to promote diabetes and cause breathless huffing during pilates. Any more calories and this beast would represent a full 100 percent of the average Victoria’s Secret model’s annual intake.

Yet it pales in comparison next to the Double Down. Anyone remember the launch of this bad boy? KFC unleashed this epic abomination just a few short months ago. It’s for people who love sandwiches but consider bread to be a pesky and unnecessary detail. Instead of bread, two fried chicken fillets are wrapped around a slimy wet ball of bacon and two kinds of cheese; this is considered so deleterious to one’s well-being that conspiracy theorists surmise it’s an extremist group’s attempt at subversive biological warfare. And by conspiracy theorists, I mean me. Seriously, airdrop a few dozen Double Downs into a small village and in short order it’ll be as void of life as a Martin O’Malley political rally. (You: “Who’s Martin O’Malley?” Me: “Exactly.”)

Luckily, not all sandwiches have to be unhealthy to represent a creative and artistic triumph. I encourage you to fire up your device of choice and Google “The Rubik’s Cubewich,” a culinary take on – what else? – the Rubik’s Cube. The history of this impressive dish is unfortunately another of our irksome mysteries, but the inventor was no doubt some sort of glasseswearing, crazy-haired genius in the mold of an Einstein or a Doc Emmett Brown. (Google that reference, while you’re at it.) Like many genius-level ideas, this sandwich is simple enough. You cut up various meats and cheeses into cubes, and then cobble them together into the familiar 3x3x3 arrangement of the popular puzzle toy, bookended by bread as a stabilizer. Preparing it is probably a huge pain in the butt. Eating it is doubtless a huger pain in the butt – how do you keep the cubes from popping out? But sometimes we put up with a little inconvenience in order to bask in awesomeness. Whoever conceived this sandwich deserves a key to the city, unlimited free Swedish massage for a year, and the full list of cheat codes to “NBA Jam” for Super Nintendo.

Whoa. Nerded out there for a second.

If I had known on that fateful day that I’d be achieving new heights of sandwich superiority, I’d have written the ingredients down so its legacy could still be enjoyed. Whole wheat bread sounds about right. Iceberg lettuce was somewhere in the mix. I think egg salad may have been involved. Maybe ham. Skittles? Not sure. The rest is as gone as Earhart; which mystery has left the more painful scar is debatable.

What’s not debatable is that the sandwich is so perfect precisely because it’s such a chameleon, shifting and morphing to fit our wants and needs. I may make one today. No idea what’s going to be on it yet, but I’m sure whatever makes the cut will be fantastic.

Jeff Lagasse is a bread-loving columnist and Assistant Editor at the Journal Tribune, whose diet consists mostly of sandwiches and beef jerky. He can be contacted at 282- 1535, ext. 319 or [email protected]