Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Great American Sandwich

I haven’t had a BLT in 70 years, give or take a decade. I distinctly remember the sign over a soda fountain in my father’s drug store showing the sandwich along with a coca cola for 29 cents. I should have bought a few dozen back then. If we’d only had zip-locks bags instead of Cut-Rite wax paper.

These days I have a weakness for tuna melts and, when no one is looking, a Reuben sandwich slobbered with sauerkraut, 1000 island dressing and the obligatory swiss and corned beef or pastrami. Enough to raise my vital signs and look for someone who knows CPR.

86 on the BLT-down. Pure poetry. Could be a first line but I gladly relinquish it just as America has given up on Wonder Bread. Furthermore none of this has anything to do with what I want to talk about.

Here comes the pivot….

The American sandwich I had in mind is the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as bread with a heartland on the inside. The two coasts are artisanal ciabatta, focaccia or corn rye while the stuff in the interior is exceptional 100% American cheese, caged-chicken or slaughtered cattle and mayo.

The electoral map is a sandwich of blue bookends and red meat. The three Pacific states weigh in with 74 electoral votes while 14 Atlantic states, including Pennsylvania (Philadelphia is considered an Atlantic port city) and Vermont along with purple North Carolina comprise 166. That adds up to 240 blue votes out of the 270 needed for a Democratic victory. No sweat.

Why is our population so distributed? Probably because the coastal states took in the immigrants which created dense and diverse cities. This led to more empathy, more compassion and a generally liberal persuasion. Urban centers demand infrastructure and public policy, all the ingredients for liberal thinking.

This can also be true of cities in the mid-west particularly along waterways but manufacturing centers come and go as the rust belt has shown.  As points of arrival coastal cities refresh the population with constant youth and vitality.

This doesn’t mean that anomalies don’t pop up from time to time. Witness California’s contribution to Western civilization in Tricky Dick, Donald Duck and Ronald McDonald and more recently Arnold and Ronald. Now New York has bequeathed us the paragon of socio-political retardation, Donald Trump.

However, in general, rural America is last to accept change. What Donald is really saying is, Make America White Again. Maybe BLTs are still there at Woolworths in Wichita. As if someone can take a bite and return to 1950 in a time machine.

I’m getting hungry again thinking about the submarine sandwich I had yesterday. The one at our local Bay Cities Italian Deli is called a Godmother on crusty home-baked Italian bread and the kitchen sink inside. I think of it as cosmopolitan, inclusive and spicy enough to accommodate the palette of every country. Someday soon this will be a sandwich to represent all America. Something to live for.

1 comment:

  1. Norm, once more you have created a masterpiece what a great analogy
    Deli anyone?