Friday 11 March 2016

Worst is the best

I, like the rest of the Boeing 787, was salivating. You know how it goes: you’ve been staring at nothing for 4 hours, maybe less, probably much less, when ‘nothing’ all of a sudden becomes some horrendous film like Mad Max which the (by the looks of it) newly engaged couple sitting in 23 A and B are watching in the seats in front of you, and which you therefore can’t help but also watch. Through the gap.

Ok, so the movies I end up watching through The Gap aren’t generally the ones I’d watch at home, and Mad Max is actually a very bad example because it’s not something I’d watch anywhere; but every once and a while something ok comes along, which, even if not good, is at least something which awakens enough of desire in me to press eject on your controller-cum-telephone thing (has anyone ever seen anyone telephone from an airplane?) and tune in to the beginning.

Which is how I started watching Chef. And how I, probably like all the rest of the people that have watched Chef, became mildly obsessed — ok, no, ‘obsessed’ is too strong a word; let’s say ‘personally involved’ — in the eating of Cuban sandwiches.

And with all good eating comes appreciation. In this case, a staunch appreciation for all the Cuban sandwiches this side of Miami done right. ‘Right’ requiring the frying of both sides of each piece of bread so they’re golden brown, soon to be brown-brown (a commonly known secret is mayonnaise). ‘Right’ requiring the correct amount of hours to have passed the pork shoulder by, first as it’s brined (a full 12 according to some recipes), then as it soaks in marinade (2 should be enough), and the last 3 as it’s slowly roasted. Then there are, of course, the pickles you need to get it right, and to which I dedicate a next-level appreciation all their own; the cheese (‘Swiss Cheese’ — as in the stuff with holes in, not from Switzerland — I know what you’re thinking but just this once, ok? because this is an American thing, not a continental thing, but if it were up to me, I’d use Cheddar), that nuclear-yellow mustard (absolutely no real mustard allowed) and let us not forget the napkins. Obviously a good Cuban sandwich requires many napkins.

So it was a good sign that we had to go through a lot of napkins when we shared our Cuban at Worst. And as bad as it sounds — and, ok, it does sound bad, no one really likes to share — it was, in fact, a good thing that we were sharing. Because then we still had room to for the weissworst with a cauliflower puree and coleslaw (something I rarely trust anyone but my mom to get right but now that group’s been bumped up to two, the second being Worst), and three fully loaded (buckwheat) crepes stretched around chunks of sweet, roasted squash, spinach and cheese. All done, I can tell you, exactly right. 

Photo by Sophia van den Hoek. Also published on Unfolded.

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