An Ode to Sandwiches

Originally published June 2007 by 'Zalea Magazine - Mobile, AL

John Stewart, host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, once asked English comedy icon John Cleece, "Why does British food suck?" Cleece's response was classic, "Give us a break we were running an empire."

It was in the mid 1700's that John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, while playing a hand of cards, realized that his roast beef would leave less grease on his fingers if he wrapped it in bread. The innovation remains one of England's few contributions to the culinary world. But what a contribution it has been.

Today the sandwich is open to many interpretations from burgers to quesadillas to Napoleons. Americans love their sandwiches and in all shapes and sizes. The bay area has no shortage of appetizing and distinctive sandwiches so let’s take a look.

Executive Sous Chef Clark Lyon of Naman’s Midtown Market (Old Shell and Florida) has devised an impressive sandwich menu with two indisputable superstars. First is the Smoked Brisket Sandwich with Swiss cheese, sweet onion marmalade, and au jus on a hot sub. The second is the Southern Style BLT on sourdough which includes the usual suspects but with a twist: B = thick cut apple wood smoked bacon. L = crisp Bibb lettuce. T = fried green tomatoes.

Wintzell’s Oyster House is known worldwide for their great seafood including the ‘Po Boys with shrimp, oysters, and catfish. But they also have the Dog River Style – fried chicken tenders tossed in Buffalo sauce topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onions (LTO). Ask for a side of blue cheese dressing. Sure other people offer similar sandwiches but Wintzell’s is by far the best because of their devotion to quality – fresh chicken and house made sauce. Also try their Crabmeat omelet ‘Po boy.

The egg plant sandwich from Floppper’s in Loxley (Hwy. 59) is a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Piled high with lump white crab meat, eggplant, Asiago cheese (from Sweet Home Farms in Elberta), and their signature homemade tomato sauce. Cliff Stapleton and crew have really outdone themselves with this monstrosity.

No Biloxi casino binge is complete without a stop on the way back at the Buckhorn Restaurant in Grand Bay. They have a great grinder called the Hideaway Tandem Hoagie which features chopped sirloin and corned beef on a toasted hoagie roll with grilled mushrooms, roasted peppers, onions and melted cheese. Maybe it will help you forget that you just personally paid for the education of seven Mississippians.

The Spot of Tea on Cathedral Square also boasts a healthy list of sandwiches with its two crown jewels being Jeromeo's Hot Pastramio (pastrami topped with pepper jack, sliced pepperoncini, and Dijon mustard on New York rye) and the best Monte Cristo you will likely ever try.

No discussion of sandwiches in this area would be complete without a nod to Argiro’s on the Causeway. After decades of service (and two devastating hurricanes) they have recently moved onto stilts and across the street from their old flood prone location. All of these businesses prove there is no end to the creativity afforded Lord Montagu’s creation. Like Bill Cosby once said, “an American can eat anything between two slices of bread.”
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