How to eat a BLT sand­wich

Une le­çon sur l’art de dé­gus­ter le sand­wich Ba­con, Lai­tue, To­mate.

Vocable (Anglais) - - Sommaire -

Si les Bri­tan­niques ne sont pas ré­pu­tés pour leur sens de la gas­tro­no­mie, ils comptent néan­moins à leur ac­tif quelques spé­cia­li­tés cu­li­naires bien connues. Le fish and chips et l’En­glish break­fast sont de grands clas­siques, mais connais­sez-vous le sand­wich BLT ? Nos voi­sins d’outre-Manche se sont ap­pro­priés ce mets amé­ri­cain et c'est au­jourd’hui l’un de leurs fa­vo­ris. Le jour­na­liste bri­tan­nique To­ny Naylor lui rend un vi­brant hom­mage.

Like boi­led eggs, beans on toast or di­ges­tive bis­cuits, the ba­con, let­tuce and to­ma­to sand­wich is such an eve­ry­day item it is ea­sy to for­get that it exists. While “bub­ble­wraps” and broc­co­li cof­fee hog the head­lines, the BLT oc­cu­pies a sto­lid middle-ground of mass consump­tion, wi­de­ly ea­ten but ra­re­ly gi­ven much thought. The BLT just is. [Yet it has re­cent­ly found it­self in the news.]

2. First, the Brexit se­cre­ta­ry, Do­mi­nic Raab, sought to reas­sure the pu­blic that, post-Brexit, there would be no dis­rup­tion to food sup­plies. Bri­tain would still be able to make its be­lo­ved BLT, he told re­por­ters. It was a cu­rious sand­wich for Raab to stake his re­pu­ta­tion on, gi­ven that the BLT ori­gi­nates in the US (was this a co­ded come-on to Trump for a trade deal?). And that a man from Da­ne­pak then pre­dic­ta­bly came out to say that, ac­tual­ly, no one could gua­ran­tee any­thing af­ter Brexit, and, in the event of no deal, ba­con prices would be li­ke­ly to shoot up.

3. Raab then had to suf­fer a se­cond hu­mi­lia­tion when a new poll for War­bur­ton’s sug­ges­ted that, ra­ther than the BLT being a na­tio­nal go-to, it is now a fa­ding 90s’ re­lic. Des­pite co­ming fifth in a sur­vey of Bri­tain’s fa­vou­rite sand­wiches for ri­val Bird’s Eye as re­cent­ly as 2016, it was re­cent­ly re­por­ted that the BLT has been usur­ped by “cos­mo­po­li­tan” fillings such as brie and cran­ber­ry, and “über tren­dy pul­led pork”. If the BLT is on the slide, per­haps it just needs a lit­tle ten­der lo­ving dic­ta­to­rial re-exa­mi­na­tion of how it should be ren­de­red in its most per­fect form.

DEFINITION

4. In de­fi­ning what the BLT is, it is im­por­tant to al­so sti­pu­late what it is not. It is not a po­ten­tial par­ty ca­nape. There is no need to rein­ter­pret it as a taco. Eve­ry time so­meone writes a re­cipe for a bread-free BLT sa­lad, a 200-year-old star­ter culture dies. If you need hot sauce on a BLT then, quite sim­ply, you need to stop smo­king.

HOT OR COLD?

5. Hot. The but­ter, mayon­naise, to­ma­toes and let­tuce should all be ta­ken from the fridge way in ad­vance. Not just to en­sure that they de­li­ver peak fla­vour, but so that, as they are sand­wi­ched to­ge­ther bet­wixt hot ba­con and gol­den toast, all the in­gre­dients ra­pid­ly achieve a co­he­sive warmth. A num­ber of now rea­di­ly mel­ting fats, from the mayo, ba­con and but­ter,

should bind the sand­wich to­ge­ther as a near-fluid emol­lient. Is your BLT drip­ping down your wrists? That is a good thing.

LOW FAT, ZERO PLEASURE

6. Ap­pa­rent­ly, sand­wich ma­nu­fac­tu­rers know that, in the third week of Ja­nua­ry, af­ter a per­iod of die­ting and self-de­nial, BLT sales spike. That tells you a lot about the es­sen­tial ap­peal of this sand­wich. It is a treat. An in­dul­gence. Any at­tempt to “ligh­ten” the BLT – swap­ping but­ter for avo­ca­do, low-fat mayo, tur­key ba­con etc – erodes that, ir­re­vo­ca­bly. If you want low-ca­lo­rie, you are loo­king at the wrong sand­wich.

COM­PO­SI­TION

7. Bread: White sli­ced or, at most, a ve­ry light­ly mal­ted bread (no­thing dar­ker or more wor­thy), of the best qua­li­ty you can find or af­ford. A long-pro­ved, tra­di­tio­nal white loaf, soft and strong, is ideal; but a decent su­per­mar­ket sli­cedw­hite bread will work fine. Key points: slices should be no more than 1.5cm thick.

8. Ba­con: Most BLT re­cipes sug­gest smo­ked which, if the ba­con is of low-qua­li­ty, is wise – to in­ject some fla­vour. But if you can source some dry-cu­red Glou­ces­ter Old Spot ra­shers or si­mi­lar, let that pure por­cine fla­vour shine.

9. To­ma­to: Cut in­to roun­dels of no more than 0.5cm thick. You need a fle­shier to­ma­to so its juices do not soak the bread. Salt the slices to bring out their fla­vour.

10. Let­tuce: For­get flab­by, wa­te­ry ice­berg; sprit­zy ba­by gem is the way to go. Un­der no cir­cum- stances start ad­ding ro­cket, soft sa­lad leaves or other un­wan­ted fo­liage – this is not a sa­lad sand­wich.

11. Mayon­naise: Po­sher, thi­cker and/or ho­me­made ver­sions can be too rich and as­ser­tive. They can create a cloying BLT. Ins­tead, spread a mo­dest amount of re­la­ti­ve­ly re­strai­ned Hell­mann’s on each piece of bread, over a layer of but­ter (sal­ted, al­ways sal­ted). Hell­mann’s was ad­ver­ti­sing it­self in Life ma­ga­zine as the “tra­di­tio­nal” mayo for a BLT as ear­ly as 1958, al­beit along­side a re­cipe that is wrong in al­most eve­ry detail.

WHEN

12. Wee­kend brunch: the BLT is a bit too bu­sy (and sa­lad-y) for break­fast, and, conver­se­ly, a lit­tle one di­men­sio­nal at lunch. But, in that wee­kend brid­ging zone, where you have the time and in­cli­na­tion to pre­pare a bel­ter, it is per­fect. Simple but not too simple, this su­per­char­ged ba­con but­ty de­li­vers a fa­mi­liar through­line of fla­vour with just en­ough com­plexi­ty to set you thin­king ap­pe­ti­sin­gly – like a pro­mi­sing ci­ne­ma trai­ler – about the more grow­nup meals you will eat af­ter mid­day.

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