Monday, March 8, 2010

The toasted sandwich

Above: the toasted cheese and tomato sandwich at the Matjiesfontein coffee shop. Made on the bread baked at the Lord Milner Hotel next door ("Phyllida's Bread", which my mother made famous in one of her food editorials in House and Leisure, back in the day). R28 or $3.70.

Most South Africans, if asked about their national heritage in food, will talk about braaivleis. About lamb, about boerewors. About bobotie, bredie.

How many will mention the toasted sandwich?

If you stop in almost any roadside cafe, coffee shop, petrol station, dive, anywhere...there will be toasted sandwiches on the menu. And they will always be good. White or wholewheat bread. Butter (or margarine, I'm sure), shop made or home made brown* bread or soft white loaf, melted, yellow, please, cheese. I know cheese is not meant to be yellow. But yellow cheese belongs on a toasted sandwich.

You can even eat them in Constantia. Before we left on our trip Guy and Jay invited us over for a braai and Guy toasted four white, cheese, tomato and onion-laden sandwiches over the fire. They were heavenly.

*Brown bread. Odd, but South Africa has the best brown bread, period. Heavy, but not leaden, full of seeds or wholewheat. Moist, nutty-smelling, and ubiquitous. Superb fresh and excellent toasted. You can buy it almost anywhere. Bread for which they charge boutique bakery prices in New York is on the shelf of every supermarket and cafe (cafe is the equivalent of a New York bodega; corner store, elsewhere).

To counteract my upbeat promotion of all things South African, we can talk about everyday security, next.

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