When I was about 8, or maybe 10, I had lunch at my grandmother’s house and she made me a tomato sandwich. It had fresh tomatoes and parsley from their garden, and I don’t know what else because I’ve been trying to duplicate that sandwich ever since, without success.
Ten years later, my other grandmother took me to lunch at a little deli where I ordered salami on sourdough. The man behind the counter decided that I looked underweight and so he "helped" me by adding extra meat. He must have put on half a pound – I remember it being more than ½ inch thick – and he included cheeses and veggies. I’ve never been able to duplicate that sandwich, either, in part because I just can’t justify putting ½ pound of salami on a single sandwich, but also because the memory was part of the taste.
These two sandwiches have gone down in my personal history as the best I’ve ever had, and in the decades that have followed, I’ve never found another sandwich that belonged on such an exclusive list. Until today.
I had the rare treat of walking around alone at the farmers’ market this morning. At lunch I found a booth that was selling bruschetta. Maybe everyone else knows all about it, but I had only read the word on fancy menus. I watched as the sellers created one for another customer before ordering. Their version of bruschetta is an open-faced sandwich that begins with a thick slice of "rustic bread" brushed with something (I’m guessing olive oil and garlic) and then grilled. Goat cheese is spread on the warm bread and it is topped with thin slices of brandywine tomato and chopped fresh garlic. Finally, it is drizzled with some kind of balsamic sauce.
I savored every bite. A woman walked by and demanded to know where I had purchased such an incredible looking lunch. It was perfect – a grown-up sandwich for a grown-up taste – and it was so filling that I didn’t eat my farm-fresh organic apple until much later.
I’ll probably try to duplicate the recipe at home, or maybe I’ll splurge again sometime at the market and buy another, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to really match the taste. It’s been added to my list of perfect sandwiches.