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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

The Earl of Sandwich

July 21, 2010

I am dieting again. Well, actually, I’m not dieting; I’m just eating clean for a while— very clean.

Low fat, high protein, good carbs, no sugar, no starch, five meals a day, 2,500 calories, yada, yada, yada. Welcome to my world.

Every time I have ever dieted, I reach a stage— usually three weeks in— when I start craving food items that I took for granted when I was eating poorly. Today, I find myself smack dab in the middle of that stage.

When this phenomenon occurs, it’s usually a craving for simple food items— hot roast beef and melted Swiss cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise, ham and cheese sandwiches with whole-grain mustard, my grandmother’s chicken salad, bacon cheeseburgers.

I have had a 48-year, steamy love affair with sandwiches.

I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich almost every day of my life until I was six-years old. I ate them with strawberry jelly, I ate them with grape jelly, and when I was spending the night at my grandmother’s and she was out of jelly, I ate them with orange marmalade. My grandmother always cut the crusts off, and my mother made double-decker pb&js. They were also the first food that I could prepare on my own, without the help of an adult.

Sometime around the first grade, my mother finally put her foot down and tried to get me to explore other sandwich possibilities. It was around this time that she introduced me to the mayonnaise and lettuce sandwich.

No kidding, a sandwich made with nothing more than iceberg lettuce, mayonnaise, a sprinkle of salt, and two pieces of white bread, a sort of BLT without the B and the T. For years I assumed she just made up the mayonnaise-lettuce sandwich because she forgot to pick up a package of sliced meat at the grocery store. “Here, Robert, try this. It’s the latest thing, a mayonnaise and lettuce sandwich. It tastes much better than pbj. Trust me. Batman and Robin eat them everyday.”

I didn’t care who ate them. I didn’t like them. No matter how one tries to spin it, mayonnaise and lettuce are a poor substitute of peanut butter and jelly every time.

She also made sugar and butter sandwiches— two pieces of white bread spread with butter and sprinkled with sugar. Obviously, my childhood home was not the Southeastern Headquarters for Healthy Eating. I can’t think of a sandwich more devoid of nutritional value and taste.

After learning about the Food Pyramid in school, I tried to convince my mother that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was represented by most of the main food groups: Jelly = fruits, peanut butter = protein, bread = grains, and the glass of milk I drank = dairy. Granted, some of those might be a stretch, but compared with the alternatives— fat-laden mayonnaise and low-grade lettuce, or pure white sugar and butter— it was next best thing to Grape Nuts.

So as I trudge along the road to Dietville, it is not a mayonnaise-laden lettuce sandwich that I crave. Sugar and butter combined on white bread turn my stomach just thinking about it. No, it is peanut butter and jelly that sits atop that shining hill in Sandwichville.

Florence Fabricant called peanut butter, “The pate’ of childhood.” Famed New Orleans restaurateur, Dick Brennan, Sr., once said, “You know why kids like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Because they’re good.” Yes they are, and 25 pounds from now, I’ll be eating a double-decker with the crusts cut off.

Pork Tenderloin Po Boy

1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp brown Sugar
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1 tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Ground Coriander

1-2 Tbl Olive Oil
2 Pork Tenderloins, approximately one-pound each, cleaned and trimmed

6 8-inch French bread or Sourdough Roll, split down the middle
2 cups Green Leaf Lettuce, shredded
3 Roma Tomatoes, slice thinly
1/2 cup Red Onion, shaved paper thin
1 Recipe Chutney Mayo (below)

Combine the dry spices in a small mixing bowl, blend well.

Lightly brush the tenderloins with the olive oil and spread the dry spice mixture over the pork. Press the spice mixture firmly into the pork.

Prepare the grill and cook over direct medium heat until the pork is barely pink in the center, about 15-20 minutes (155 degrees). Turn the pork 2-3 times while cooking.

Remove the pork from the grill and allow to rest 5-10 minutes. While the pork is resting, grill the po boy bread for 1-2 minutes on each side.

Spread the chutney mayonnaise on the toasted bread. Slice the pork into one-eighth inch thick slices. Place several slices of pork on each roll and top with shredded lettuce, tomato and red onion.

6 sandwiches

Chutney Mayo

1 Tbl Olive Oil
2 Tbl Yellow Onion, minced
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Curry Powder
2 Tbl Sherry
3/4 cup Chutney
3/4 cup Mayonnaise

In a small sauté pan, heat olive oil over low heat. Place the onion, garlic, salt and curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add sherry and cook until almost dry. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Once the cooked mixture is cooled, combine with the remaining ingredients. Store covered and refrigerated until ready to serve.

1 1/2 cups

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