Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Perfect Babaluba: Heaven's Egg Salad Sandwich

Warning: this post is all about an egg salad sandwich that has been named after one of my nicknames. This is not Proust, who can turn dipping a pastry into a cup of tea into many pages of transcendent narrative. My tale contains no great meditations, reflection or revelations. Just egg salad.


It's not easy for a vegetarian to order a sandwich, although a few possibilities exist. Blimpie now has Gardenburgers, Subway's Veggie Delite is an old standby (though it's a little light on protein), and even Burger King now has a veggie burger on the menu. Still, as far as sandwiches go, there's not many choices for those of us who don't eat anything that once had a face.

Which brings me to the egg salad sandwich. (Yes, I know the egg is a chicken from the future, but I was never successful being a full vegan, so eggs, dairy and honey are still in my diet.) I have devoted many years in my quest for the perfect egg salad sandwich.

Foremost among the necessary attributes of this holy grail of sandwiches, it's imperative for the egg salad itself to be both fresh and cold. I cannot tolerate those abominable, three-day-old, mushy, about-to-'turn' travesties that sometimes skulk among the refrigerated shelves of convenience stores.

Now to the fine art of the thing. Ideally two different kinds of mustard are required, one for each slice of bread (a regular yellow and either a honey or brown are ideal). Similarly, two different types of cheese, on either side of the egg salad, add depth to the flavor profile (I love that phrase, "flavor profile", which came to me courtesy of the Food Network). I'm not picky about which variety of cheese touches each mustard -- I'm laid-back that way.

A slice of onion (preferably a sweet variety such a Vidalia) adds just the right bite to offset the gentleness of the egg. A nice fresh leaf of lettuce completes the visual and textual appeal. And a pickle spear is mandatory to add the occasional tart cleansing of the palate during the sandwich experience.

Dorothy realized that the source of her longing was not in Oz but in her own back yard. Likewise, after all my searching, I found a place close to my office that is capable of making this exact sandwich! It's "My Friend's Place" at Northlake Festival. But these noble purveyors of fine comestibles (another resonant phrase, this time from Monty Python) added one more touch that endeared themselves into my heart and made me a customer forever.

After patiently scribbling my lengthy sandwich specifications each time I placed my order, they eventually just taped it on the wall in the back kitchen. This way I can just order it by name, a favor they apparently extend to several of their regular customers. It's fun, it's fast and I feel like some kind of dignitary or celebrity to have a sandwich named after me.

When it came time to give them my name, I hesitated for several seconds, and my heartbeat actually began racing. For the inescapable truth is that calling it a "Bill" is too flat. Try it: "I'd like a Bill." It utterly lacks the necessary luster for this paragon of culinary creations. It was then that I realized that I had inadvertently stumbled onto a golden opportunity to immortalize the alter ego name that I use when in a certain impish mood and which I give to restaurant hosts to loudly proclaim when my table is ready: "Babaluba".

Thus is the story of the birth of the "Babaluba", egg salad sandwich of the gods, able to nurture both my stomach and my soul and singularly capable of comforting almost all of the mundane woes and brooding disquietudes of my day.


miss heather said...

excellent!! i shall make a special trip there just to order one.

mertz said...

Very funny.

I, too, love great egg salad.