Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 19, 2010 11:06AM

Open Letter to the Avant-Garde Surrealist Who Made My Lunch

Rate: 32 Flag

The embroidery on your green polo shirt may proclaim otherwise, but you, sir, are no sandwich artist.

Trust me; I know a thing or two about sandwich artistry.  When I was in middle school, I embarked upon what would become a six-year quest to create the Perfect Tuna Sandwich.  I had always made tuna sandwiches with tuna, mayo, and maybe a bit of lettuce, but one day I lingered a bit longer than usual in the refrigerator while compiling my ingredients.  “Hmm,” I thought, “We sure do have a lot of pickles...”

And so began my journey.  Lightly toasted white bread at first, then lightly toasted wheat.  Tomato slices.  Fresh spinach.  Banana peppers.  Bacon bits.  Jalapenos.  Fresh basil.  Freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  All of this and more in various combinations, depending on what I could find in the fridge that day.  My sandwiches became mini-towers, little works of art, with canned tuna fish acting as a blank canvas for my outpouring of culinary creativity.  My quest came to an end when I became a vegetarian during my freshman year of college, and, to my eternal regret, I don’t think I ever quite reached my platonic ideal of tuna sandwichry.  That said, however, each attempt would be worthy of inclusion in a gallery retrospective.  For a brief time, I was a budding artist of the sandwich genre.  I was the toast of the sandwich scene.

But, as I’ve already mentioned, you are no artist.  For starters, I’m not even entirely sure you’re aware that you’re making a sandwich right now.  My untimely entrance into this little Subway shop seems to have interrupted a rather heated discussion you were having with your girlfriend, who is slouching by the register, interrogating you on why you’re sending text messages to Lori Adler while you’re at work.  Well, I didn’t really “interrupt” the argument, per se, since “interrupt” implies, well, an interruption of some sort.  You two are keeping it hot.

Okay, thanks for squishing my bread flat with your entire weight.  That’s great.  I never would have thought of that myself, but I guess that’s a pretty good way to make sure all of my big huge veggies fit into that little sandwich.  Good going. 

Oh, and I’m looking forward to that one bite that’s going to be all pickles.  When I said I wanted pickles on my foot-long Veggie Delight, I’m glad you were able to read the nuance of my request and tell that I wanted them all piled up in the middle.  Say, you are good.

Woah!! If that’s how much oil and vinegar you put on a sandwich when someone asks for “just a tiny, tiny bit of oil and vinegar,” I’d like to see how much you put on when someone asks for a lot.  Or just normally, for that matter.

You know, you could at least pretend to care that 75% of the sandwich fillings have fallen out as you close up the sandwich and wrap it up.

Some artists, like, say, Vincent Van Gogh or Jackson Pollock, can take their emotional turmoil and turn it into stirring works of beauty.  You, on the other hand... well... I’d tell you not to quit your day job, but I’ve seen you at your day job and you suck at it.  This sandwich, which I’m now giving you $5 of my hard earned money for, looks like it was created by the Pablo Picasso of sandwich artists.  All the bits and pieces are there, but they don’t fit together into any conventionally recognizable sandwich form.   Maybe you’re a post-structuralist performance artist.   Maybe you’re like the Igor Stravinsky of the Brattle Street Subway, and I’m just one of the angry, ignorant critics decrying your culinary Rite of Spring, blind to the complex genius of your sandwich skills.

Maybe. But I can tell you this for certain: tomorrow I’m going to the burrito place down the street.  They have a Burrito Rembrandt working the lunch shift.

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I admire your skills as a sandwich artiste and critic....I see a book in your future.
Good post.
Make sure the guy didn't cut off his ear and stick it between the arugula and the prosciutto.

i'm only slightly less obsessed with sandwich details than you might have been about the tuna one you never quite perfected. i so get this piece.

the leaning full weight on it is spew-worthy. damn. so good.
Better watch your step bro. Sandwich maker today, TSA agent tomorrow.
Cool piece. R
Steve- I'm glad you spelled "artiste" with an "e." Ar-teeeste. Heck yeah.

Con- I'm more worried that he'll leave his cell phone in sandwich. Kids and the texting, amirite?

femme- Sandwich Artist is a calling, not a title you give high school kids at dead end jobs. What was Subway thinking?

John- Very astute point; the skill set is all there.

On an unrelated note, what's up with the hours upon hours of OS blackouts today? Sheesh.
If only the sandwich artists were realists instead of conceptualists.
Was that Lori Adler at the deli down the street? Now there's a woman who knows how to toast your reuben. Serious bonus points for the Stravinsky/Rite of Spring comparison.
Brilliant post, shaggy. You're the toast of sandwich reviewers, for sure.
Little known fact: Pollock could make the shit out of a PB&J. Horrible person, but the guy knew his way around a jar of jam.
Oh honey ... come on home, Momma will make you a sandwich the right way.

Tuna, red onions, spinach & banana peppers with a little red wine vinegar on some perfectly toasted homemade sourdough. I've got cookies, too. And milk.
Ocular- seriously. Keep it between the slices!

Stim- Damn, I wish it was a Lori Adler who knew how to make sandwiches. Then at least he might pick up some pointers.

Pilgrim- Grazie tanto!

Shel- I don't doubt it. He was also really good a putting chocolate and caramel sauce on ice cream, but that's no surprise, really.

Madre- You had me a "Oh."
Oddly enough this made me hungry.
Pitchers and catchers report today ... catchers ... re ...

Mom! Hold it together!! V-Mart and Tek are like BFFs! This is going to be Tek's big year! Our secret weapon off the bench, remember? It's all going to be okay!
Leaning full weight on sandwich.....eeewwww, very funny Shaggy!
I'd like to see a Frank Gehry sandwich! Really enjoyed this!
Gosh Shaggy, this was such a great post that the mom in me wants to make gourmet vege sandwiches for you for the whole year!
Stupid outage ate my comment . . .

I can appreciate your devotion to the perfect Tuna sandwich, although my own work has been centered on PBJ. The finishing touch is a light patting . . . the barbarity of the "squish" you describe . . . horrifying.
Cat: Shameless schmameless. The problem is I don't drop by and say hi nearly enough. :)
Truly hilarious. Truly.
This is fantastic. Loved it!
A sandwich is a sandwich just as a pizza is a pizza.. it depends on how you top it and slice it; yet, life is always between the layers and this piece was extremely creative!
Awesome outlook!Rated.
I was feeling really good about this...then someone came in and threw a bunch of shoes and sunglasses on it...absolutely no shame!

A wonderfully written piece Shaggy...very inventive and drool inducing!
Even a five dollar footlong can be an artistic statement, she obviously missed the mark. R. Excellent writing.
WOW! I really admire your artistry in capturing the furstrating, it's-gross-but-i'm-desperately-hungry-and-the-only-other-alternative-within-range-is-a-five-course-meal-at-the-ritz experience that is Subways.

Also: glad to find a fellow tuna-sandwich artist (before your veg transformation). It is one of my favorite meals, but people act all sorry for me when I tell them that's what I'm having. BUT: with the right bread and combination of ingredients, it can be quite exquisite. Here's some I've discovered in my travels:

London: CORN! Obvious to some but a revelation to me.
Tokyo: Tempanade (I KNOW!) but you gotta try it
KL: some kind of sradine (ok, not so much this one...)
Grandma: onions

And a final note on sandwiches:
A sandwich is not a sandwich without that magic combo of mayo and tomato. Is there a more delicious blending of flavors?
Orlando: you are a man after my own heart.
Too funny. I knew the subshop before you even got to the end. Hopefully turning veggie preceeded your consumption of their version of tuna.

A well written piece of pure Jackassery!
what you really needed was my mother. She is not afraid to tell the sandwich guy how to make a sandwich.
tuna sandwichry -- yes! R!