Thursday, April 16, 2009

An Appreciation: The Jambon-beurre

Franco-American relations have always been a funny thing. One minute they're helping us whoop the Brits in the Revolutionary War, and the next thing you know we're serving "Freedom Fries" in our Senate cafeteria. Politics aside, though, doesn't a little part of everyone secretly want to be French? Oh, to have universal health care, three-week vacations, and the very real possibility of locking your boss in his office if things get rough at work.

Daydream all you want – it ain't gonna happen here. The only way we can indulge our clandestine Gallic fantasies is by eating the food. And I can think of no simpler or finer way to do this than with the "ham-butter" sandwich: the jambon-beurre.

Baguette. Butter. Ham. Done, that's it. Wait. Why are we putting butter on a sandwich? Don't think about it. It's perfect the way it is.

Indeed, my first encounter with the French national sandwich was in De Gaulle airport in Paris (from a place called Paul; perhaps the sandwich gods were trying to tell me something?). The fresh, crisp baguette, creamy butter and salty ham was a match made in heaven. A combination powerful enough to repel the imperialist American hamburger from the shores of L'Hexagone (amusing Google translation here).

The best part is, as long as you can get your hands on some semi-decent bread, you can recreate it here. In a strange way, putting these three ingredients together almost guarantees a good time, even if everything's not top-notch.

If you haven't had one, try it. Even if it means funny looks at the deli, it will be worth it.

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