When I ordered the steak sandwich at the Original Hamburger Works, I was asked how I wanted the steak cooked. I was a bit surprised at this, as a steak sandwich is usually a cheap cut that has been minced beyond recognition, so never mind how you’d like it cooked. I figured aiming for rare was my best bet, as it was likely to be overdone no matter what. However, the fact that it was in fact a full piece of meat turned out to be one of the least interesting things about this sandwich.
The sandwich you see above is exactly the sandwich I received. There is nothing hiding under the bun, no grilled onions, no cheese, no aoli or salad greens, just a steak. It would be easy to be upset about this, to deride the lack of artistry, the withered imagination that puts forth the absolute minimum required to make a sandwich and ceases all effort. It would be easy, but it is not what I did. I sat there and I ate my steak sandwich and I wondered what it was like to eat sandwiches 150 years ago, to know them in such simple forms and only in such simple forms. It must have really been something, and I am grateful this incredibly basic sandwich gave me a small window into that very different time.