How to Make a Sandwich. Really.

Posted on November 15th, 2010

There are days when I just don’t know why I married an engineer. Oh, sure there’s that whole love thing—but seriously. When a normal person (me) and an engineer (Harry) marry, it can be an…adventure. Or at the very least, a union between two people of completely different species.

Take sandwich making, for example. Yes, sandwich making. Just stay with me on this, OK? I take a couple pieces of bread, slap on some mayo, top it off with some meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato, plop it together, cut it in half and eat it. The entire process takes about two minutes.

It doesn’t work that way for an engineer.

For engineers, like Harry, sandwich making is a serious and time-consuming enterprise. I have heard urban legends of engineers who starved to death while trying to create the perfect mountain of roast beef and cheddar, but sadly didn’t get it right and thus, could not eat it because it wasn’t perfect. I would not be shocked to find that engineers have developed some sort of formula for sandwich making, like meat = cheese3 + mayonnaise (-lettuce and tomato).

Seriously. In our house, sandwich making is an art form—at least for Harry. First Harry has to examine the bread. The sizes must match up perfectly; otherwise the bread-to-bite ratio will be off. Really. Who knew there was a bread-to-bite ratio? Apparently, in engineer world there is such a thing. And it’s important. You know, in engineer world, a place where normal people do not live. Or visit.

Anyway, once the bread matching is complete, Harry can move on to the really difficult part of sandwich making—ensuring proper coverage and layering of condiments. Mayonnaise is the first condiment to be spread on the bread, unless your engineer isn’t Harry and is a renegade who enjoys the great taste of Miracle Whip. Not many of those mavericks truly exist, though.  For the most part, they are a mayonnaise-loving species.

Of course, Harry can’t just slap some mayo on the bread and call it a day. No, a precise amount of mayonnaise is taken from the jar and repeatedly wiped across the bread. This is to ensure an even coverage on the entire slice that penetrates all the little holes that are in the bread. This process is repeated for each slice.  It takes about a million years to get the mayo on the bread.

Next, the mustard is chosen. The mustard must be flavor-matched to the cheese and meat selection—which explains why there are approximately 42 jars of mustard in our refrigerator. Once selected, the mustard is applied directly to the mayo-soaked bread.

Now comes the meat. Apparently it is very important to have properly sliced meat. The meat must always, and I mean always, be sliced thin to ensure that an engineer can achieve proper meat-to-cheese flavor. That is why you will never see an engineer in a grocery store buying a package of bologna. It’s not sliced thin enough—and also, I think they know what all the chemicals in bologna really are and that makes bologna really, really scary. Anyway, the meat is applied in thin pieces, until the pile is a perfect tower of carnivorous delight.

After that comes the cheese. The cheese is always chosen to enhance the meat. Turns out, they have complimentary flavors. Who knew? I usually just slap some cheddar on my sandwich no matter what the meat is and boom! It’s done. Anyway, once chosen, the cheese has to be cut into rectangles so that it can be balanced on the meat pile without any meat peeking through. Seriously.  I can’t make this stuff up.

Anyway, next the lettuce is layered using the leafy portions of the lettuce only—because who wants a lumpy sandwich? That is topped with thin slices of tomato, which are slightly overlapped to ensure tomato flavor in each bite of sandwich. Thin slices of onion are applied in the same manner.

At this point, the sandwich is nearly complete. Now Harry will top the sandwich with the remaining bread so that all sides are aligned and cut the sandwich in half. This cannot be done willy-nilly. No, a sandwich must be cut into precise triangles of equal size. And no, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because triangles look kind of “mathy.”

And this is why I don’t let Harry make me a sandwich.  My slapped-together creations are just fine with me.  Of course, I am normal. Or at least, I like to think I am.

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16 Responses to “How to Make a Sandwich. Really.”

  1. Chelle Says:

    I totally get Harry’s way. Who wants a lumpy sandwich or incorrect bread to fillings ratio? Oh, wait, I’m an engineer….

  2. et Says:

    I have a theory… in college/Uni ALL engineers have to take on top of reg coursework, Engineering cuisine 101/102 and explanations 101(where you learn to give complex exp. to simple Q’s)…afterall if you’re going to do it, at least make your engineering brethern proud!
    ps my dad’s an engineer.. so yeah this WHOLE topic applies…. lol

  3. Lindsay Says:

    I know way too many engineers.

    One of my friends has his own special way of peeling an orange. Another of my friends has a tendancy to try to get every single detail of a story correct (even the parts that don’t typically matter… like if it was at 12:30 or 12:45 that afternoon). Another one has to follow the rules of any packaged food exactly.

    Though I can’t quite complain as I am a math person myself. This is probably why I am friends with so many engineers as I at least understand where they are coming from as I sure do love my algorithms.

  4. Laurie Says:

    LOL. So apparently, my husband isn’t weird…to anyone but me :) There are days when I look at him and think, “really? We’re both human?”

    OTOH, he looks at me and thinks the same thing.

  5. Karrin Says:

    Um one has to fear a PB&J. I mean I am OCD but daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang, that was amazing!

  6. Laurie Says:

    LOL. We do not do PB & J. Can you imagine? The man would starve.

  7. Sam Says:

    I totally understand your husband’s way. When I make sandwiches it drives my husband crazy:) i’m not an engineer, but I went to school for graphic design…i wonder if that has anything to do with that…hmmm

  8. Laurie Says:

    LOL. Okay, because you read my blog I can still like you. But I still think my husband is crazy!

  9. Tammsla Says:

    Oh dear…I’m marrying an engineer in five months…I’ve noticed certain tendancies, but I’m getting a picture :D I have to give him credit though; he loves me to death and treats me like a princess :D

  10. Laurie Says:

    Congratulations! The good thing is–engineers are very consistent people, so you will probably always be treated like a princess :)

  11. Momma B Says:

    Just found your blog today and am loving it!
    I understand your confusion; I see it in my husband all the time. To me, a sandwich is a work of art, every bite to be savored. My husband isn’t the foodie I am so he just slaps it all together and considers it done! ;)

  12. Laurie Says:

    LOL. Thanks for reading, even if you are taking Harry’s side :)

  13. Jessica Ashley (Sassafrass) Says:

    This is so hilarious to me because I am a sister of an enginerd and many, many years ago was a receptionist at an all-male firm of engineers. These men designed the entire HVAC for Sears Tower — SEARS! TOWER!– but could not remember to bring the bathroom keys back out of bathroom. They were brilliant, focused, and…well, I cannot count how many times I’d walk into the break room to find they’d completely disassembled the copy machine, were creating plans to fix it, were organizing parts and making notes in the manuals — almost always because there was a paper jam or the ink needed to be refilled. It was absolutely entertaining. Messy and totally different-brained than me, but very entertaining.

  14. Laurie Says:

    @Jessica, when we first married, my MIL took me to the garage and showed me where all her toasters had gone to die. Apparently, my husband was trying to “improve” them.

    Let’s just say it’s been a long time since I’ve had toast…

  15. Karen Says:

    OMG, I think I just found a new favorite blog! Are you sure he isn’t *that* precise to get out of making lunch for the kids? You must have a lot of patience when he’s in the kitchen. My husband gets his meat sliced to his liking but other than that, is pretty slack about putting sandwiches together. Thank goodness because I’m an incredibly impatient person (blame the star sign, Aries).

  16. Laurie Says:

    @Karen, Thank you so much! I have patience, because I like to eat. And honestly? I’m a horrible cook and he isn’t. All that pickiness has some advantage :)

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