Comment on Maine-Style “Italian” Sandwich by TJ MacFarlane.
I, too am a Maine native who stated eating the typical Maine working man’s lunch in the ’50’s. (Italian, whoopie pie and coke–all for 99 cents) I spent a lot of time making Italian’s at Mario’s in Gorham while going to college there. My Mom and Mom-in-law tell stories of sneaking out of the Student Nurses residence at the Central Maine General Hospital in Lewiston to go by Sam’s Italian for Italian’s and Pizza. I believe the difference in the rolls come from the addition of milk in the dough. Most of the other rolls I have had elsewhere (and after 25 years in the Navy and several trips around the world) don’t use milk in the dough. Every Mom & Pop variety store (Precursors to the convenience stores of today) would have a stack of Italian’s on the check out counter by 10:00 AM, ready for the noon crowd to grab on the way out. The best way to eat an Italian is to buy it the day before, leave it in the ‘frig overnight and then have the slightly gooey, flavor-melded goodness for lunch the next day. All the flavors of the tomato, pickle, onion, olive, ham and cheese with the oil and vinegar (yes, I said vinegar) just combine to make the roll an epicurean’s delight.
Pardon me, I have to go get the ingredients for a batch of rolls (yes, I have a recipe and no, I won’t share it). I intend to pass it down to my daughter. You’ll have to get yours shipped in.