Tommy’s Joynt is a fairly notable establishment, and has been serving their particular brand of comfort food for a long, long time. (The decorations include a flag with only a few dozen stars, a wagon wheel, and an inflatable football promoting the Bud Bowl. Exact age would be hard to pin down.) With age, though, they have yet to find wisdom. I’ll start with the punchline: Tommy’s understanding of sandwiches is about as solid as his spelling. I would try and show more patience, both with Tommy and my own meager joke, but I’m tired of this nonsense. Tired, just dog tired of getting my hopes up for a fine, interesting sandwich, and having those hopes stomped back down by some no-account restaurateur who can’t understand that, at the very least, you eat a sandwich with your hands.
Every so often after I write something about eating a sandwich, someone will point out to me that it could have gone differently. There was a topping bar, they’ll say, or tell me that I could have asked for no cheese. It’s all true, but that isn’t the point of my endeavor. I want to find the wonderful sandwiches where others have dreamed them, exactly how they have dreamed them. To search for dreams, though, leaves one open to finding nightmares.
I ordered the Buffalo Stew Sandwich because it was, by far, the most interesting thing available. Think of it: A sandwich wherein the main ingredient is stew! It’s exciting! The french dip demonstrates that a sandwich can handle liquid, even a considerable amount. I could think to myself how I might go about making a stew sandwich, and I was intensely curious about how the tinkerers at Tommy’s Joynt had carried out such an idea. But my curiosity turned to dismay almost immediately. After slicing a french roll in half, the man making the item took the top half of the roll and sliced it in half again. I was shocked, and as has happened before, that I did not storm out immediately must be chalked up to that state of shock. That extra slice left me in stunned silence, knowing that whatever other steps were taken in preparing this so-called sandwich, they would be a waste. It turned out to be fairly simple, just a ladle full of stew over the bottom of the roll. I was issued a fork and a knife, a rattling mockery of the obvious fact that I could not pick up and eat what had been sold to me as a sandwich.
What I find myself thinking over, again and again, is how this just wasn’t necessary. Get a roll with a good, sturdy crust. Scoop a bit of the bread out of one half, give yourself a pocket to sit your portion of stew in. Serve me that with a few extra napkins and you’ll hear no complaint. It isn’t hard! Tommy could go to sleep at night knowing he understood and respected sandwiches. The extra napkins might cut into the margins a bit, but it’s tough to put a price on a good night’s sleep. The last time this happened I expressed a bit of shame over my own mistakes. Not being careful in my reading of the menu, making unwarranted assumptions, etc. I’ll take on no such blame here. Going forward I will make no changes to how I conduct myself. I am not in the wrong here. Invite me over to watch cricket, I’ll blame you when we sit down and tune in to handball. It maybe a lovely game, but for the love of god, I wanted a sandwich! Is that so much to ask!? I’m getting away from myself. It comes down to this: I believe, and I refuse to stop believing, that a person should be able to walk into an establishment that purports sells sandwiches, order a sandwich, and be served a sandwich.