Beef Patty on Coco Bread – Island Spice, Teaneck Rd, Teaneck, NJ

If you told me this was a lousy excuse for a sandwich I wouldn’t put up much of an argument. There’s nothing there but two bits of bread and a beef patty, which itself isn’t much more than a pastry shell and some spiced ground beef. There may not be much involved here, but I can say without hesitation that on my recent trip east this was the sandwich I was looking forward to the most. (Well, the second most. Nothing supplants The Finest Sandwich.) Part of the reason I was so looking forward to it is that there isn’t much Caribbean food in the bay area, and so if I happen to get a craving for a beef patty and coco bread, the odds aren’t good that I’m going to be able to pick one up. A craving is hardly predictable, as we all know, and my yearning for a beef patty seemed to fade in and out at the most inopportune times. But more than the fact that I hadn’t had one in a while was the simple but not insignificant power of nostalgia. Coco bread is something I ate weekly as a teenager, usually with a beef patty sandwiched in the middle. It’s also a fairly distinct bread, meaning there’s no close cousin for which I can settle.  I’ve made the bread before, but that takes even more time than biking over to one of the restaurants would take and is also something that can be difficult to indulge in at odd hours of the night.

So what does all of that mean? I don’t care that this was a beyond-simple sandwich. It’s a classic combination and I grooved on nostalgia as I savored every bite. I wouldn’t expect anyone else to have a similar reaction, but I hope that each and every one of you has your own sandwich that you remember with such fondness. I hope you get to have that sandwich, readers, regularly enough that your fondness never fades but not so often that it burns out.

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