Damnit, I sat down to expound on any number of topics from God particles to rape culture to who knows what, and then I was all distracted by rereading my past writing. The net result was, and I am sure this happens to you as well, that I couldn't stop thinking about sandwiches.
Is it weird, do you think, to have a crush on a sandwich?
Not just any sandwich (or 'sammich', as I sometime say) mind you. I'm talking po' boy. Shrimp po' boy, to be exact. And just about every Friday, at the tavern across the street from my place of part-time spice mongering, they have the shrimp po' boy as a special. I discovered this some weeks ago, on a sunny Friday lunch half-hour in which I persuaded myself to not to hook up with Crush #1 (a tasty BLT sammich) or Crush #2 (superlative turkey club).
So it 'twas that fateful afternoon I "ventured forth in search of tasty comestibles", to paraphrase John Cleese in Monty Python's "The Cheese Shop" skit. I hoofed it on over to the tavern, grabbed what would become my semi-regular seat, and uttered the phrase that would send my sammich cravings in a new direction: "I'll have the shrimp po' boy, please."
Even the waitress seemed surprised. It was not my usual. There was a brief awkward silence from which we both recovered in reasonable time. I sipped my iced tea and amused myself watching the antics of the talking heads on the sports channels showing on the televisions above the bar. Then the sandwich arrived, I fell to.
First, a word about sides. The sandwich specials come with some pickle chips and a choice between potato chips and cottage cheese. I like pickles, and the ones in this place are decent. I am not a cottage cheese man, so my choice is always the chips. Theirs are not house-made, but whatever brand they might be slinging are good enough.
As to the sandwich, the bread seemed a cross between a baguette and ciabatta sub roll. Good
sized, it was packed with a decent supply of shrimp, with lettuce and tomato slices. Regarding the shrimp, I admit I was prepared to be underwhelmed. After all, the middle of the country is not exactly known as prime seafood territory. But it was fried shrimp, not simple boiled shrimp, and there was remoulade sauce. I reckoned fried and sauced would make up for any slippage in the quality of the shrimp themselves.
Man, oh, man, was I surprised. Even though it was a full lunch time crowd, things seemed to get quiet as I chewed. It finally penetrated my consciousness about a third of the way through the sandwich that it was really good. The shrimp were fried just right, not heavily breaded. The sauce, their version of a remoulade, really had some presence. The tomatoes were less than stellar, but it being winter that was of no surprise. Even the lettuce was tasty, dark green romaine instead of insipid iceberg disappointment.
It was as I polished off the last bite that I realized it wasn't just good, it was great. It was so good I asked the waitress to let the kitchen crew know that I thought that shrimp po' boy was possibly the best po' boy I have had outside of New Orleans. And I had some spectacular po' boys in New Orleans on my visit some years ago!
Now I realize that were it possible to do a side by side comparison of this sandwich to one from say, the Acme Oyster House in New Orleans, the NOLA version would probably win. They have history and tradition and experience on their side. That's okay, though, and I'll tell you why: I don't live in New Orleans right now. And I wanted a good fried shrimp sandwich; that sandwich was right in front of me. Lucky for me, the folks in the kitchen seemed to want to make a good po' boy, and it showed. It was good enough, for sure, to be that Friday afternoon reg'ler thang.