Posts tagged ‘sandwich’

August 18th, 2011

Do people eat sandwiches for dinner?

Just like my husband thought he knew all there was to know about Japan from listening to the lyrics to “Mr. Roboto,” much of my knowledge of everyday America too, came from pop-culture.  To be more specific, sitcoms.  If Everybody Loves Raymond is a true representation of America (and if it isn’t, my world is shattered), Americans like to eat sandwiches for dinner.  In Japan, this is unheard of, and as such, I was shocked when Debra offered to make Ray a turkey sandwich.  I thought, a sandwich is something you’d drop into your kid’s school lunchbox, not something you’d feed to your husband as a reward for a long day at work.  To make matters worse, if you’ve watched the show, you’d know that Debra isn’t exactly skilled when it comes to food preparation.  Are average Americans happy when their evening meal consists of two pieces of white bread wrapped around a few slices of supermarket turkey?
To find out, I asked the first average American I could find…my husband.  His answer was an ambivalent, “Yes and No,” as he went on to explain that yes, Americans might eat a sandwich for dinner, but the sandwich should be a little better than the lousy turkey sandwich described above; maybe something from Subway, perhaps. Subway?  Can’t we do better than that?

Japanese people (or maybe just me) show love, care and appreciation through cooking. By that logic, if someone made me a boring turkey sandwich, I’d eat it, but deep down, I’d feel unappreciated.  Even if you’re not blessed with a culinary instinct, it’s important to make some effort when cooking for someone you love.  Even my husband, whose specialties include eggs over easy and frozen burritos, once made me quesadillas for dinner.  While his dish would most likely have led to his elimination on Top Chef, I still enjoyed every bite. More than just melted cheese in between tortillas, it was made with love, care and enthusiasm.  Sorry Debra!

Growing up in Japan, we didn’t eat turkey, and when I arrived in America, I have to say, I wasn’t initially fond of this new taste I had discovered. With time, I learned to appreciate not only its interesting flavor, but its cultural significance as well.  I’ve even managed to create a few turkey sandwich recipes of my own that helped change my mind about this American favorite.  Click the pictures below for the recipes for two of my favorites.  Stay tuned as well for my seasonal Thanksgiving turkey sandwich recipe that always gets rave reviews (if I understand what my husband is saying when he talks with his mouth full).

Turkey, apple and blue cheese sandwich (for recipe, click here).To really make this sandwich perfect, make sure to use a good, fresh baguette.  If one isn’t available,  the recipe can transform itself into a great salad or wrap, by adding more tomatoes, walnuts and a drizzle of vinaigrette.

Turkey and brie pressed panini (for recipe, click here).Even if you don’t have a panini maker, do not fear!  I don’t have one either.  Just use your stove top griddle or frying pan and press the sandwich using another, heavier pan.  The results are delicious!

So to answer my own question, I guess we do eat sandwiches for dinner.  If only Debra could master these recipes, she could prove to her husband that everybody really does love Raymond.

July 26th, 2011

PB & J 3

Most of my Japanese friends love American culture with one glaring exception: PB&J.  Whenever I mention that my favorite snack is celery with peanut butter, I’m greeted with the comment that I’m way too Americanized.  They are probably right about that. But regaining my Japanese identity is as easy as grossing out my anti-fish loving husband by eating dried anchovies as a snack.

The variations on the traditional PB&J would confuse my friends even more.  Mendocino Farms, a gourmet sandwich shop in Los Angeles, offers a Bacon & Housemade Peanut Butter Sandwich on grilled panini.  Based on its price of $8.75, I’d have to say that this is one of the more sophisticated versions of this sandwich that I’ve encountered.  Along with applewood smoked bacon & homemade PB, it has caramelized bananas, crushed honey roasted almonds and green apples.  I actually do love this sandwich, mostly because I love the bacon, whose saltiness paired with the sweetness of the banana compliment the rather bland PB.  Maybe if I start out by stating that PB&J with bacon was Elvis’ favorite, I might get a few of my Japanese friends to take a bite.

PB&J has come a long way from the kid’s sandwich of choice.  There are PB&J ice creams, donuts, and cookies, but a PB&J burger?  Sounds strange, but what could be more American than combining these two signature classics?  It would never happen, you say? Apparently, you’ve never been to Mo’s restaurant in Burbank where the “Foggybottom Burger” sits prominently on the menu.  At first, it seems like a traditional burger with its nicely cooked patty and fresh buns, but the addition of peanut butter and sour plum jam set it apart from the rest.

When you assemble these ingredients and take your first bite, you taste nothing but the peanut butter, however, by adding sliced pickles, somehow it works (surprisingly).   Our waiter said all his customers are skeptical before they order, but once they’ve tried it, his feedback is 100% positive.  Love it or hate it, it’s an experience, to say the least.

While the thought would surely turn off the typical Japanese palate, it’s worth a try.  After all, turnabout is fair play: to most Americans, the thought of eating raw fish seemed crazy thirty years ago, and today, there’s a sushi restaurant on virtually every corner of Main Street U.S.A.