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Food Porn Friday: Midnight delight

"Buenos días, señoras y señores!"

"Buenos días, señoras y señores!"

As you might have guessed, I am a big fan of sandwiches (and if you didn't guess that after reading the title of this column, who are you?).  It is, in my estimation, the perfect food, containing everything one needs from all blocks of the food pyramid -- the meat group, the cheese group, the vegetable group, the bread group, and, naturally, the mayonnaise and mustard group -- all in one convenient, portable, friendly package.

The most popular theory regarding the invention of the sandwich tells us that it was concocted by John Mantagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, who was an inveterate gambler.  Apparently, the Earl ordered his staff to place his meat between two slices of bread so that he could nosh with one hand and not break his stride at the card table.  While this account is most likely apocryphal (Sandwich's biographer claimed that he was more likely a workaholic who ate at his desk), it's a nifty story, and, however it came to pass, we have sandwiches now, and thank goodness for that.  The Hawaiian archipelago, formerly known as the "Sandwich Islands" might not bear his moniker today, but he might very well have given his name to something even greater and more important.

I'm not knocking you, Hawaii.  You're awesome.  But given a choice between you and sandwiches, my decision is pretty clear.

As I noted in a previous story, my brother Eric has a particular fondness for the Cuban sandwich.  Even though he's free and able to visit Conseco's Markets at any point in the year for a Cuban, he stubbornly waits for Jazz Fest, and damned near bolts for the Cuban sandwich stall as soon as he enters the Fair Grounds.  It's a tradition for him, and not a bad one.  Who wouldn't love a generous helping of roasted pork and ham, pickles, cheese and mustard pressed on a hot griddle until perfectly warm and melty? (Answer: No one with whom I would want to spend any appreciable length of time.)

I do have a serious one-up on Eric, however: I may not have been to Havana for a Cuban sandwich, but I have been to Miami, which is pretty close. On a visit to South Florida a couple of years ago, in fact, my agenda included a few very important must-haves. I needed to go to the beach and get some sun on my frog-belly-white complexion. I needed a great mojito. And I definitely needed an authentic Cubano.

Luckily, my friend Karen had me covered.  She took me to one of her favorite restaurants for a true medianoche, a cousin of the traditional Cubano served on soft, sweet, egg dough bread (similar to challah), so named after the hungry Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Floridians who would devour the sandwich late at night after dancing up a storm at the salsa clubs.

I was not disappointed. Even though I was enjoying it at midday and not as midnight dancing fuel, this medianoche was, in all of my extensive experience, one of the best sandwiches I'd ever had in my life. Paired with crispy potato sticks and a cold Presidente lager, it was easily worth a plane ticket to Miami. Perfection.

And for you? What's your sandwich of choice? Po-boy? Muffaletta? Lobster roll? Rueben?  Tuna salad on rye? Let's discuss...

Native New Orleans food writer Scott Gold, author of The Shameless Carnivore and a blog by the same name, has written for Gourmet, Edible Brooklyn, The Faster Times, and other publications. His Food Porn Friday column for NolaVie offers a weekly mouth-watering photo designed to start culinary conversations in the Big Easy. Catch his weekly food column for The Advocate here.


Native New Orleans food writer Scott Gold, author of The Shameless Carnivore, has written for Gourmet, The New Orleans Advocate, Gambit, ThrillistEdible Brooklyn, Tasting Table, The Faster Times, and other publications. His Food Porn Friday column for NolaVie offers a weekly mouth-watering photo essay designed to start culinary conversations in the Big Easy. Find him on Twitter @scottgold.