Seriously excited to have Corey Mintz contribute to this recurring series in which professional foodies opine on what they think makes a good sandwich great. I’ll let him introduce himself:
I interview people while cooking them dinner (yep, that’s a job). Toronto Star columnist. Former cook. Former restaurant critic. Author of How to Host a Dinner Party (House of Anansi, 2013).
What makes a great sandwich?
A great sandwich is an amazing thing in between at least two other things. The things on the outside are probably bread, but they don’t have to be (Oreos, Star Wars). If they are bread, they need to be great and to complement the texture of the thing inside (the density of rye around smoked meat, the elasticity of whitebread around pulled pork). The thing inside can have any number of companions. But a single filling sandwich should be filled with an outstanding ingredient (grilled cheese, smoked brisket). The more fillings a sandwich has, the more likely that they are all covering up a lack of greatness from individual ingredients (submarine sandwiches).
Florence is known for its lampredotto, sandwiches made from abomasum, the fourth stomach chamber. The best one I ate was at Nerbone, a stall in Mercado Centrale, a very St. Lawrence style market. The tripe has been rinsed of all but the faintest barnyard odour, with a topnote of black pepper. Braised in tomato sauce, the stomach lining is rendered to the consistency of ripe fruit. As a long line of locals and tourists jostle in line, sandwich makers scoop the tripe out of its hot bath and slice it up like pastrami. The steaming meat gets piled into a white bun with either salsa verde or chili oil. Tripe deserves its bad reputation, until you’ve tasted it prepared this well.
Before you book your flight to Florence, follow Corey on Twitter: @coreymintz.