One of the most pleasurable activities in the world of food enthusiasm is eating with one’s hands. That said, there is a certain kind of sandwich that is better consumed with a knife and fork. In French it’s called tartine. In Sweden, smörgås. In college: “I only have one slice of bread.” And to the rest of the world, it’s the open-faced sandwich.
Why, with the modern, portable convenience of the handheld sandwich would one ever devolve back into using snooty utensils? Well, your typical open-faced sandwich features high-quality ingredients, is attractive to behold and clearly satisfies just as well, demonstrated by the fact that many European countries haven’t yet closed their sandwiches. Sure, you can scan your sandwich’s cross-section, but can you really tell what’s inside? Does the care you took in arranging the smoked salmon into aesthetically pleasing folds—and ensuring the cucumber slices overlap just so—even matter if you’re just going to squash it flat with another piece of bread? Have we really evolved past looking our lunch in the face before we eat it?
Now you don’t have to get elaborate. I think that’s a common misconception about this style of sandwich since you frequently see them sporting perfectly sliced hard-boiled eggs, pretty slices of meat and dainty wisps of dill to garnish. Keep in mind that these originated as peasant food born out of leftovers. The bread was stale and used as a plate. That said, peanut butter, jelly and sliced bananas make a great open-faced sandwich. You may recall the pride and joy of Food Republic’s inaugural Test Kitchen, the tuna blob. She ain’t fancy, and everyone loves her.
So show everyone at lunchtime what your sandwich is made of. Display the innards of your turkey and swiss with pride. And if anyone questions your behavior, simply break out your best Swedish Chef impression and let that be that.