In search of the de­fin­i­tive sandwich

Houston Chronicle - - HIGH SCHOOLS | ETC. - ken.hoff­[email protected]

S the story goes, the sandwich was in­vented in 1762 by John Mon­tagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. He was play­ing cards, crib­bage to be ex­act, at the Shake­speare Tav­ern in London and couldn’t tear him­self away to eat.

So he or­dered his valet to bring him some sliced beef be­tween two slices of bread. The bread would keep his hands from get­ting greasy and, in turn, mak­ing the cards slimy.

That’s how the sandwich got its name — from a con­sid­er­ate gam­bling junkie.

No­tice that the earl specif­i­cally asked for bread. He didn’t ask for two pork roasts with a duck in the mid­dle.

Which brings us the Dou­ble Down, the new “sandwich” from KFC that boasts ba­con and cheese and spe­cial sauce tucked be­tween two hunks of fried chicken.

In one of the 10,000 com­mer­cials KFC is run­ning for the Dou­ble Down, an ex­cited fast­food fan prac­ti­cally squeals, “Now that’s a sandwich!”

I’m think­ing, no way that’s a sandwich. That’s just a big pile of chicken and cheese and ba­con and sauce. Sure it’s a low-carb fan­tasy, but it’s so messy, KFC has to sup­ply a card­board holder, or it’d slip out of your hands, and you’d have some ex­plain­ing to do to your dry cleaner.

Or maybe KFC is right. It is a sandwich, and “there’s so much chicken, there isn’t any room for bread.” They pay big money on Madi­son Av­enue for logic like that.

What’s your def­i­ni­tion of a sandwich? To me, and I’m guess­ing most, a sandwich is some­thing — from peanut but­ter and jelly at home to a moun­tain of hot pas­trami at Katz’s (Never Kloses) to a sin­gle slice of bologna in the school cafe­te­ria — tucked be­tween two slices of bread. Or a bagel. Or taco. Or pita. Can you toast that, please?

But is an ice-cream sandwich … a sandwich? What about Oreo sandwich cook­ies?

Is a veg­gie burger a burger? That’s an easy one. No. It’s an abom­i­na­tion. I ate one, once. I still get the willies think­ing about it.

Paul McCart­ney tells a story about the Bea­tles’ early days. Their van didn’t have a heater, and Liver­pool and the north of Eng­land can be in­cred­i­bly cold in win­ter. So the Bea­tles would lie one on top of the other in the back of the van to stay warm. McCart­ney called it “a Bea­tles sandwich.”

Burger King of­fers a Quadru­ple Whop­per … but John, Ge­orge, Paul and Ringo?

I am for­ever deal­ing with fast-food po­etic li­cense. Last year, Arby’s came out with a Roast-burger. It wasn’t a burger. By burger, I mean a sandwich with a ground-beef patty. It was merely the same old Arby’s roast beef sandwich with tra­di­tional burger top­pings, like let­tuce and tomato and pick­les.

I didn’t quib­ble in my Drive-Thru Gourmet re­view. Like Hy­man Roth says in God­fa­ther II, “This is the busi­ness we’ve cho­sen.”

Red Robin has a Pot Roast Burger. Same thing. It’s a pot roast sandwich, hardly a burger.

Papa John’s has a dessert pizza with cin­na­mon and vanilla ic­ing. Ap­par­ently any­thing round qual­i­fies as a pizza now. Ex­cept when you flip it over. Then it’s a cal­zone. Baskin-Rob­bin sells tur­tle ice cream. Let’s hope not. I play ten­nis with a pretty

smart guy. I asked him, “What is a sandwich?” Af­ter a lit­tle back and forth, he fi­nally sur­mised, “when you have some­thing in the mid­dle of two things that are the same.” OK, Florida is a sandwich. So if KFC wants to call the Dou­ble Down a sandwich, so what? But they’re wrong. Up till now, Zilch, the su­gar­free, carb-free, fat-free mar­garita mix made in Hous­ton, was only avail­able in sin­gle pack­ets — good for one strong drink.

Now the magic mar­garita mix comes in a pack­age that makes a gal­lon. The more the mer­rier.

Zilch is avail­able at most Spec’s, Richard’s and Ral­ston liquor stores.

DAN KRE­MER: KFC

SANDWICH OR JUST MEAT AND CHEESE?: KFC’S new Dou­ble Down sandwich is made of two chicken filets with ba­con and melted Mon­terey jack and pep­per jack cheese and a zesty sauce in the cen­ter.

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