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I am here today to speak up for a much maligned and maltreated member of the food world. You’ll almost never find it on the menu at a “fancy” restaurant, and even in the places I hang out it’s on the left side of the menu—definitely not entrée material. At one time serving this item was actually considered unpatriotic. The word sandwich is even used in a derogatory phrase used to describe boring, diary-style online blogs (the “Cheese Sandwich Blog”)—just another way this member of the food hall of fame is truly disrespected. I am speaking, of course, of the king of foods—the sandwich.

What makes them so great?
Why do we all love them, and yet often consider them a fall back—not our first choice? Sandwiches come in an almost infinite variety. Take a cheese sandwich (a real sandwich, not a boring blog) and add a different cheese, or horseradish, or basil pesto. Then grill it, toast it, fry it, or eat it plain. It’s still a cheese sandwich, but it’s also a world of possibilities. Secondly, sandwiches go with anything. Name a drink, salad, side dish, or dessert and I can come up with a sandwich that matches it wonderfully—and it’ll usually be a simple one. Finally, sandwiches are portable. When’s the last time you took a plate of spaghetti or a lobster tail to a ballgame or out to the backyard while you read in the hammock? My theory is that it is this last point that makes us view them as not being restaurant fare and relegates them to fallback status. I don’t have to put on a tie or find a dog sitter to have a sandwich. They are the food of the people.

The invention of the sandwich
Ironic then that an English Earl invented them in the 1760s (well, actually it was invented by his cook so the Earl could eat and gamble at the same time). In England they were considered haute cuisine and were classified as food for those able to afford to eat at restaurants. This is why you won’t find many references to sandwiches in American cookbooks until the mid-1800s. What self-respecting revolutionary would be caught eating food invented by the same folks that burnt down the White House during the War of 1812? Of course everyone ate them, it’s just that no one wanted anyone else to know they ate them. It wasn’t until the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1893 that the true rise in popularity and democratization of the royal sandwich began. They were perfect for rail workers to carry with them on their journeys and easy for passengers to buy at the various stops for a quick neat meal. And thus the sandwich became food for the working class.

What you’ll find at the Co-op
In the Deli we make around 200 sandwiches a day with a crew of three people working eight hours in an attempt to keep up with demand and provide a fresh supply daily. This is in addition to our made-to-order sandwiches available from 9:00am-7:00pm at the Deli counter. We slice all our meat, cheese, and veggies every morning to ensure that you get a sandwich that lives up to its royal heritage. We use organic tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers on our sandwiches, as well as many other organic ingredients like refried beans and cannilini beans. We use our own chicken salad made with Bell & Evans boneless chicken and tuna salad made from scratch in our kitchen. We use local ingredients like Simple Soyman tofu and tempeh, Nature’s Bakery bread, and Willow Creek ham. For those items that aren’t organic, we still use the best quality we can find as well—like La Brea breads, Applegate Farms turkey, and Divina olives. All this is part of our effort to give you a quality sandwich.

You’ll also find all the fixings for making your own sandwiches at home. We have sliced turkey, ham, beef, salami, and pepperoni (as well as cheese) available at the Deli counter. In addition to chicken and tuna salads and our vegetarian Florentine burgers, we also have a wide variety of vegan options like barbecued seitan, three flavors of tofu patties, and an eggless egg salad that (in my humble opinion) tastes better than the real thing.

So if you’re just grabbing a quick lunch, looking for a great option to send off with the kids for school, or looking for a decent sit down meal with a side of Deli salads, you’ll be able to find what you need here. More importantly, you’ll find that the sandwich need no longer be relegated to second-class status.