Manwich. The sandwich renamed for who loves it best, done over and pimped out for the ultimate ride. Manwich is about taking an average experience and curating it. You elevate the basic essentials so that each thing goes from average to the best it can be. The end result… a manwich.
I know because we had a manwich night last night. There are some virtues in this. When you announce manwich night, everyone is happy. There is a bit of do-it-yourself and mix-and-match that fussy eaters will appreciate. There is not a lot of preparation. Just get out the chopping board and a few plates because a manwich is all about the inclusions.
A manwich night is social, a chance for show-and-tell. You see what others like on their manwich and do as good or better. A manwich is about basic value, and basic satisfaction. It’s a ploughman’s lunch of ingredients all pulled together between two slices of bread.
Manwich is the recognition that little things add up. What is insignificant on its own, shines in the right company. Small tricks shine here. One way to make a good sandwich better is to toast the bread. It goes a long way to releasing those flavours locked up. Toasting also enhances that moment you bite in with a pleasing “crunch”. It works as an upgrade in mouth sensation. Once you get to toasting, there is also the famous open-faced sandwich, for those who want to cut down on bread. Build everything on one slice and then grill the whole thing from above as a variation on a theme.
At some point, someone figured out that you didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, just work on variations. When we were kids, this same phenomenon happened with peanut butter and some other ingredient. The possibilities were endless - peanut butter and jam, peanut butter and honey, peanut butter and sardines, peanut butter and onions, etc. You could make your own signature plate out of something lowly.
A manwich however, outdoes peanut butter in possibilities. It brings together a bunch of things and creates a synthesis which is new altogether. The surprise bonus is varied nutrition. The Subway fast-food chain first championed healthy options by showcasing great bread with healthy ingredients. Their poster boy, Jared became the face of the brand when he used the fast food chain to create a fail-safe routine that would allow him to lose weight. He made a daily regimen… skip breakfast, have a six-inch turkey sub for lunch, and a foot-long veggie sub for supper. Following this routine he lost over a hundred pounds. If you ever went for a fully loaded veggie sub, you may have forgotten the meat was missing. It became a big salad but you never noticed.
Good inclusions will kick up a regular sandwich a few notches. Curated mustard makes a difference. Grind fresh pepper on top or some parmesan. Throw in chopped green pepper for some crunch, black olives, green olives, a variety of sour and sweet pickles, red onions, sauerkraut, fresh lettuce, sprouts or spinach, and of course, tomatoes. Go for some fresh herbs like basil, mint or cilantro. Try your own variations. A good sandwich is egalitarian. Everyone gets their vote in a popular and democratic way.
It makes me remember the story, “Stone Soup”. A beggar strikes on a way to get fed without having to beg. He knocks on doors and tells people he is going to make a magical soup from a stone. All he is asking, is a few more ingredients. One had cabbage. one had a bit of meat, one had a few potatoes et cetera. The end result drew a crowd and everyone was happy. The soup had nothing to do with the stone but everything to do with the odds and ends everyone contributed. Manwich night is the same thing, raiding the pantry and recreating the stone soup story between two slices of bread.
A manwich sounds sexist but it is not. Man may be its biggest fan, but girls will also dig into a manwich with the best of them. A manwich is also equal to all cultures. Add some roasted garlic, or try a different kind of bread. Throw in some bean sprouts or braised buk choy. Try a different kind of cheese, like smoked Gouda, Brie, or Feta. Dab on some tatziki instead of mayo. Chop up some sundried tomatoes. Go for bacon if you are Gentile, or Pastrami if you are Jewish. Spread some hummous if you are Arabic. Load in some cooked meatballs for Italian flare. It’s like a lunchtime trip around the world.
For the adventurous who don’t like things mild: kick it up a notch by adding some heat. You can go all the way from horseradish, to ghost peppers depending on your tolerance. A bit of heat wakes up your palatte. Add in some hot peppers and face off against your partner to see who sweats first.
Well, this is all getting quite democratic. An average guy can work wonders at the supper table, when he gets the simple basics right. The only barrier is lack of imagination. It’s a great way to make friends, celebrate an event, or draw a crowd. Just say MANWICH and count how many people raise their hands and say “I’m IN!”