Today’s sandwich is the “California Club with Chipotle Mayo.” It combines turkey, Swiss cheese, bacon, spinach, tomato, avocado, a fried egg, and chipotle mayonnaise on three slices of toasted white bread.
Notes: About ten years ago, one of my closest friends and I started parting ways professionally. Though we had started working for the same Internet company in similar roles, after the post-bubble collapse of that company, he began to focus much more on overall strategy and operations, while I chose to focus more on doing as little as possible. A decade later, while we remain very close, the relative wisdom of our life decisions is clear. He is vice president of a consulting company, an International Businessman whose day-to-day life and job responsibilities I’ll never fully understand. In contrast, I own one pair of jeans and take pictures of sandwiches.
Though we live hundreds of miles apart, we still get together to talk shop as often as we can. Though we have grown from fairly similar 20-year-olds into fairly different 35-year-olds, the intensity of the work we did together and the hundreds of hours we have spent drinking beer and puzzling over our futures has bonded us together, I hope forever. In each of us, there exists a mutual admiration and respect for the way the other person is shaping their lives, and getting together to update each other every few months is one of my favorite things.
The last time we got together, this friend of mine made a remark that’s stuck with me ever since. Travel is a huge component of his work, and he logs tens of thousands of frequent flyer miles per year. Sometimes, the travel is glamorous and fun: three nights, for example, in the bright lights of Bejing. Other times, less so: An overnight in Sheboygan Falls in the quiet shadow of the sausage factory. He explained that the one thing that has been consistent, the one constant in a blur of hotel check-ins and calls to room service, has been the classic club sandwich. It’s available in China. It’s available in Wisconsin. It’s perhaps the most consistent item available from room service, an $18 triple-decker under a tin dome that I suspect makes him feel loved and cared for, even when he is by himself in a strange city. I imagine that on his best days, he appreciates the familiar taste of home after a long day in a new place. And I imagine that when he is sad or lonely, missing his wife and new baby, that he views his whole life in terms of how many more club sandwiches he’ll have to eat before he gets to go home again, the way a prison inmate counts the remaining time on his sentence by how many more weekly trips to the commissary he’ll have to make.
The club sandwich occupies both of these mental spaces simultaneously. It’s comforting and communicates security, even while it depresses you, just a little bit. It makes you feel better when you need it, and then, it makes you feel that much worse. The absurd height of the sandwich and the precision engineering makes building it for someone you love feel like a kind, giving act, even while the sheer number of ingredients can make the sandwich feel a little unfocused. It makes you smile, and then it makes you sigh.
For our version, we rounded out the sandwich with a few new textures; creamy avocado and an over-medium fried egg balance the crunch of the toast and the bacon, while the chipotle mayonnaise adds just a touch of spice and color. And while I’ll bet the last thing my old friend wants to do when he gets home from jetting all over the globe is make himself another club sandwich, I’ll bet he’d approve of this one.
California Club with Chipotle Mayo
One sandwich is often plenty for two people.
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1-2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
- 3 slices white sandwich bread, toasted
- 1/4 cup of raw baby spinach leaves
- 4 slices of deli turkey
- 1/2 tomato, thinly sliced
- 4 slices bacon, cooked
- 2 slices Swiss cheese
- 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- 1 fried egg, over-medium
In a food processor, combine mayo and chipotle chiles. Whiz until smooth and set aside.
To make the sandwich, spread one side of each piece of toast with the mayonnaise. Assemble in this order: On the bottom slice of toast, add half the spinach, then one slice of turkey, then half the tomato, then half the bacon, then one slice of the Swiss cheese. Top with the second slice of toast, mayonnaise side down. Spread the top of the middle slice of bread with more of the chipotle mayonnaise. Top with remaining spinach, then the sliced avocado, then three slices of turkey, then more tomato, the other slice of cheese, the remaining bacon, and the fried egg. Top with the third slice of bread. Slice diagonally into quarters, holding each quarter together with a toothpick.