Monday, 24 October 2011

Lunch Basics: All My Sandwiches

In one of my best acting exercises (the one that made me feel like I actually could hack this acting thing), we were asked to choose a profession, research the profession, and then show (not tell) what our profession was about. Many of my classmates chose the stately doctor, or the revered teacher, but I chose the humble delicatessen worker. My mother had worked in a deli, and even at one time was a part-owner of a deli. I had already done first-person research. At home, I practiced making a simple sandwich while talking with my brothers and sisters. On the day we were to present our work, I went to my favorite deli and ordered a quarter pound of turkey, a few slices of provolone cheese, and a kaiser roll. I bought some mayonnaise and sliced some tomato and lettuce from the market. And I came to school with a butter knife, a serrated knife, and a huge roll of wax paper. Just before class, I instructed my friend to come up to me and order a sandwich. I would take care of the rest.

I was slightly apprehensive; Milton, my acting teacher, had never really liked my work in the class, I felt. And I was worried I might cut myself if I got nervous. But things went off smoothly: my friend ordered a sandwich. I smoothly cut open the roll, smeared on the mayo, and got to work constructing an impressive sandwich, all the while asking about my friend's family and talking about my own. Afterwards, in between bites of the sandwich, Milton told me he was super impressed; it is difficult, he said, to carry on action while talking about something completely different, but in life, we do it all the time. The sandwich exercise taught me how vital everyday action was to making a scene real. It also taught me that Milton likes a good turkey sandwich.

Sandwiches are free-form and multifunctional. You can put whatever you want on a sandwich, be it veggies, meat, cheese, or spread. And it is typically always cheaper to make a sandwich yourself as opposed to paying someone else to make it. It doesn't take long, and cold cuts tend to keep pretty well over a few weeks. Just don't keep them too long...

And now... a sandwich in one act.

Lightly-toasted wheat bread. First goes on the spread; here, a homemade honey mustard. Honestly, just make your own; mix some honey with some mustard. Done.
Then the meat. Anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4 lb. is sufficient, in my book. But do what you gotta do. Also, be sure to separate each individual slice and place them sort of folded on the bread. It just tastes better for some reason.
Then the cheese. A few slices will do. Mmm, provolone!
Sliced tomato? You bet! Don't place the slices on top of each other; they slide easily.
Lettuce! Classic! Whole leaves are always better; they stay in the sandwich better than if shredded.
There it is. Apply some pressure when putting the top slice of bread on. It helps keep the sandwich together.
Use a sharp knife to slice in half.
Dagwood Bumstead knows what he's talking about.

Title inspiration: All My Sons is a drama in three acts by Arthur Miller. Premiered at the Coronet Theatre in New York City on 29 January 1947, directed by Elia Kazan.

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