A few weeks ago while in Los Angeles, my associates and I were all set to venture to a local sandwich shop to pick up lunch. It turned out, though, that there simply wasn’t enough room in the car for all of us. Having reviewed the Oinkster menu online, I felt secure in what I wanted and so I simply told them to bring me back a pulled pork sandwich. Having heard tell of The Oinkster’s reputation, I spent the wait imaging the sandwich I was soon to relish, stuffed full and singing with a fine Carolina sauce. That is not what I got. A quick glance at the picture above will tell you that something, somewhere went wrong.
It is hard for me to not get angry. When ordering a sandwich, it is an exceedingly rare occasion where I will make specific requests. I trust in the person who has come up with the sandwich that they understand balance and layering and that their desire to create a fine sandwich matches my desire to eat one. I trust that they will do right by me. I have been let down before, certainly, some yahoo will load up on the cheese or go wild with the chilies. But those are understandable sins, products of misguided enthusiasm. This…I don’t know how this came to be. It was a pulled pork sandwich served without sauce. Pork is a fine, fine meat, but a half pound of it sitting naked on a roll is, dare I say, bland. This sandwich was a movie with the last two reels missing, a season of baseball cut short by strike. The cabbage and onions were both tasty, but the lack of sauce was so distracting it was hard to enjoy anything about the sandwich.
The simplicity of the sandwich allows for a lot of latitude. There are a million different things you can do, and it excites me to see people explore new territory. But this isn’t a vision, it’s a mistake. When you stand up and claim you’re taking a shot at an archetype, there are rules. There are lines there to guide you, and this sandwich fell well outside. Next time I’m in LA I intend to return to the Oinkster, to see if they can’t right this wrong.