Today’s sandwich is the “Sandwich Artist’s Tuna & Bacon.” It combines tuna salad, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, and pepperocini on a 12 inch sandwich roll.
Notes: For a brief period in 1994, I had someone on the inside at the newly-opened Rockland branch of the Subway chain of sandwich restaurants, in the form of my high school girlfriend, Morgan. A beautiful girl with a pale, heart-shaped face framed by crazy brunette ringlet curls springing off in every direction, Morgan was introduced to me by her ex-boyfriend, a mutual friend who never washed his sweaters and told wildly tall tales about his history of intentionally driving cars off of cliffs and building homemade tracer slugs for his shotgun. Morgan had a Summer job as a “Sandwich Artist” at our small town’s Subway, and she was always willing to entertain my requests for unusual sandwich combinations that were intentionally bizarre in the way that teenagers seem to find really, really funny.
One of these oddball sandwiches stuck, and became my regular order at Subway: A six inch tuna sandwich topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, and extra vinegar. The resulting soggy sandwich took the strongest flavors available from the chain at the time (this was an era before America decided to make everything “Buffalo Wing” flavored), building a sandwich that, while perhaps unappealing to some, managed to lift the top of your head off with a combination of flavors that could never exist in the natural world.
Though I have largely abandoned lunches at Subway in favor of sandwiches that aren’t simply endless, flavorless combinations of “crunchy” and “wet,” I still think of this sandwich often. I wanted to recreate it at home, using better, fresher ingredients, but with the same palate-confusing combination of flavors. In an effort to duplicate Subway’s nutritionally-neutral bread, I chose the whitest, puffiest, most refined sandwich buns I could find at the supermarket, which are really more like gigantic, oversized hot dog buns. The other toppings are the same, except instead of drenching the sandwich in vinegar, I now use pepperocinis and sour dill slices to bring that punch of sour and spicy.
Oh, and Morgan? She moved to the “other” Portland, where she has a very successful career as a deejay for a Christian rock radio station, and a family of her own. I’m sure she never thinks about this sandwich. And what about the lanky kid with the stinky sweaters? I’m certain that by now, he is either a masked vigilante superhero who spends his nights keeping Rockland’s mean streets safe for the common man, or at the very least, is being strongly considered for the first manned space mission to Mars.
Sandwich Artist’s Tuna & Bacon Sandwiches
Makes two big sandwiches
- 2 cans solid white tuna in water
- 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 strips bacon
- 2 12″ white submarine sandwich rolls
- 2 leaves of Romaine lettuce
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 1/4 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 sour dill pickles, sliced
- 4 tablespoons pickled pepperocinis
Drain tuna, and mix with mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Set aside in refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients.
In a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until brown and crispy, turning often. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
To assemble sandwich, split sandwich rolls. Spread each roll with half of the tuna mixture, a leaf of Romaine, and half of the tomato, onion, pickles, and pepperocinis. Serve immediately.