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Monday, May 11, 2009

In Search of the French Sandwich...

So, we are in France. And the entire week leading up to this trip, all I could think about was finding a sandwich upon landing. No joke.

At this point, you probably think I am delusional. I mean, who gets excited about food and can’t stop thinking about it for a whole week leading up to a trip? And not just any food-- a sandwich of all things?!? Yup, that’s me. I even wrote it on the “To Do” List.

Crazy as it sounds, the sandwiches in France are the absolute best. They are simple, but perfect. The crunch of freshly baked bread which cannot be replicated anywhere else, the creaminess of the butter, the saltiness of the ham, and the pungency of the cheese. There is absolutely nothing better than a great French sandwich.
Now, you are probably thinking that this is an easy craving to fix right? Well, it should be. Flying into any French airport would give ample opportunity to satisfy this sandwich craving. But we usually fly into Geneva airport, then drive into France. And the recently renovated, lone snack bar in the “Secteur Francais” of the Geneva Airport serves sandwiches, but overpriced and really not that good. Perhaps it’s because they are sitting in a refrigerated vitrine all day. Or perhaps it’s the price that leaves a sour taste in your mouth.

So, we need to find the fix en route. The problem is that upon leaving Geneva Airport in a rental car (a Citroen if we are lucky, and a Fiat Punto if we aren’t so lucky…this time with a German license plate), there is so much stress to find the right roads to France while avoiding the Swiss highway tax, that we cannot even think about find a boulangerie to satisfy the craving.

Once successfully in France, after either navigating the correct roads or sneaking onto the highway and gunning it to France before someone notices we don’t have the vignette (Swiss highway tax sticker), we find ourselves on a highway, laden with gas stations and rest stops stocked with overpriced, mediocre fare that doesn’t do justice to the real French food, let alone the sandwich. And before we know it, we are either home, sans sandwich, or pulling up to a crappy gas station in a vain attempt to satisfy the craving before lunch time.

But this trip was different. We decided we could no longer play this silly game. We needed the real thing. The real sandwich. The crusty bread. The salty ham. So, we pulled off the highway into a small town in search of a cash machine and a boulangerie. Conveniently, we found both right across from each other. What a treat it was to walk into the boulangerie. The smell was intoxicating. And of course, it was stocked with fresh sandwiches, tarts, flan, meringue. It was all there, just as I remembered it. But, this was not the time for gluttony. Only 1 hour off the plane, and 1 hour away from a home coming lunch, we needed to deal with the task at hand. We made straight for the sandwiches, and not being able to resist, we took two. One Jambon Cru et Raclette (Cured Ham and Sort of Stinky Cheese) and one Jambon Blanc et Fromage (Cooked Ham and Cheese).

Once in the car, we attacked them one at a time. And boy, were they delicious. Everything I had been dreaming of. That crunch. That chewiness. That saltiness. It was all there.

And before we knew it, we were on the road again. Direction: Home. Objective: Lunch with the family (Pate, Pork Chops, Salad and Gratin Dauphinois).

Perhaps one sandwich would have been enough???

1 comment:

  1. Wow! France is just too beautiful. The female half of this Duo spent 2 weeks there this past December, and she ate more than her fair share of bread, meat and cheese. Actually the ham and butter sammie is enough! So good.