For the longest of times, I was never a fan of the humble sandwich. There was something about it that put me off. More of a local thing than anything else. For example, the local traditional bread is nice but it’s too crumbly and dry to make a good sandwich out of, it was always better for plain jam on toast or dipping strips into sauces. And then there’s the whole issue of living in a hot country. In the summer, bread can go off in days. And if it doesn’t get moldy, it either gets filled with desperate insects or it goes nasty because you have to keep your bread in the fridge or freezer. Since I didn’t own a toaster or anything at the last place I lived, I’d rather just go without.
But recently I moved into a new place, and as a gift, mum bought us a sandwich toaster. It was a tough choice though. A normal toaster or a sandwich one? Considering that we never really had plain toasted bread (I’ve always been a cereal person and brother basically lives and breathes eggs and bacon), we opted for the sandwich toaster.
I swear, that sandwich toaster has changed my life.
I’ll point out right now that it’s not a GOOD sandwich toaster. It takes forever to heat up and the lid is already broken. I’m pretty sure it snapped on the second use while trying to toast a particularly large, meatball-filled sarnie. But having a nice, warm, melty cheese sandwich is just sooooooo nice.
Okay, sure, the damn thing’s designed for normal, square slices of bread, and here in Cyprus, square bread is non-existent. Most bread here is irregularly shaped. Even the ‘traditional English’ rectangular loafs. That’s fine though. That doesn’t matter. I’ll throw any bread into our sandwich toaster. Long buns meant for hotdogs? Sure. The weird, sesame-seeded breads that are always in the “Yesterday’s Jam” section of the super markets will do well. The other day, I shoved bacon, mozzarella cheese and hummus into a pita bread and shoved THAT into the sandwich toaster and it was fucking delicious.
Why is this such a revelation to me? I have no idea. But a sandwich toaster fulfills the two main criteria I need for a lunchtime meal – It needs to be warm and it needs to be quick and easy. I’m not normally a fussy eater but when I’m tired and busy with work, I don’t want to think about things. A toasted sandwich ensures that I get some food down my gullet while also providing enough carbs so that I don’t go hypo later on. It’s so much easier than lighting a grill or cooking up some rice or pasta, both of which need to be watched like a hawk because of how they can randomly explode from the saucepan.
So yes, bless the sandwich toaster, the provider of hot, tasty, toasted sandwiches. With melted cheese.
As to the best way to USE a sandwich toaster? That’s up to you and your brand of bread-cooking apparatus. But since I’ve been trying to create the perfect sandwich every time I’m alone in the apartment lately, I’ll share a few things:
Bread is up to you but getting some fresh, basic white bread slices is probably best. That being said, I had some leftover pitta breads in the freezer, and once I’d defrosted one, I used that and it was really nice. You need to keep an eye on the structural integrity of the bread though.
Meats are a weird thing. You want a good meat but one that’s already cooked, quite compact and willing to be squished down further. Bacon is a very good choice. Hotdogs not so much, not unless you cut them into slices. You’ll be squishing the fuck out of your sandwich probably, so you don’t want anything too pointy.
Mayonnaise is shit in a toasted sandwich. Your choice in sauce is important. If you’d eat a sauce warm then it works, like mustard or maybe ketchup. You only want a little bit of sauce though, otherwise it’ll spurt out everywhere.
Vegetables are also pretty meh in a sandwich. A pickle works but leafy veg don’t. But now that I’ve mentioned it, I might try and fry up some little mushrooms and put those in a sandwich. Ideally you don’t want anything wet though because then you get crunchy on the outside, soggy on the inside.
Lastly, cheese is vastly important. There’s no point making a toasted sandwich if you don’t put any sort of cheese in it to melt. I don’t care what cheese you use, from the finest cheddar to a shitty edam to a wholly vegan cheese, you NEED cheese in a toasty.
Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think it’s because melted cheese in a sandwich is just sooo good…