In my post earlier this week, I reiterated that I consider myself an enthusiast and not a critic. I go looking for good sandwiches; it’s very rare that I’ll sit down for a sandwich without some sense that it’s going to be good. But I’ve been thinking about that, and I think there’s room for growth.
In my review of the fried chicken sandwich from Flanagan’s Ale House in Kentucky I got into a discussion of how most people experience sandwiches. It is not, I feel safe in saying, very close to how I experience sandwiches. (I’m going to come off like a snob here, but the shoe fits so I’ll wear it.) The numbers, were we to look at them, present a distinctly American portrait that I’m sure you’re all capable of putting together. What I’m driving at is there’s a gap between the kind of sandwich looked for by someone like you or I and the kind of sandwich you average person on their lunch break settles for. They take their five dollars, wander in to their local franchised sandwich joint and walk out, convinced that the pile of iceberg lettuce and few scraps of lunchmeat they’ve been handed are a legitimate sandwich. Maybe all that salt goes to your brain after a while, I don’t know.
So there’s a gap there, between me and them, and I’ve been thinking about how I might cross it. What I’ve come up with is the newest semi-regular feature here at On Sandwiches: Slummin’ It. I’m going to go out and eat a sandwich that I wouldn’t ordinarily even stop to consider, and I’m going to share my thoughts about it with you. I hope I find something to enjoy in these sandwiches, and I hope you find something to enjoy in reading about them.
Slummin’ It: Jack in the Box Bourbon BBQ
I start here because the grilling is a good sign. There are plenty of sandwiches out there that wouldn’t be successful but for the magic of a flat-top, and I suspected that if Jack in the Box understood that they might understand some of the larger, more important issues in sandwich making.
The grilling is the high point, unquestionably. I’m trying not to judge these sandwiches too harshly; while the buttery grilled bread contained neither the nuance nor depth of flavor that you might get in a competent diner, it was buttery and it was grilled. Call it the soft bigotry of low expectations, but I’ll give out points here for reasonable approximations. Beyond the bread, though, the sandwich comes up short, very short. I’m not sure what kind of steak went into this, but it’s tough and whatever flavor is there has disappeared. Where did it go? Well, it went the same place the namesake bourbon bbq sauce went: into the cheese. The downside of the grilling is that the cheese melts to a slimy ocean, and anything that might have been good about the sandwich is lost at sea.
I will say I’m disappointed that this project started with a bad sandwich, but I cannot claim to be surprised. But I intend to continue on, still an enthusiast, but an adventurous one. Here’s hoping I find some sandwiches worth the effort.