Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Wonder of the Norwegian Club Sandwich

Photographs by Nicole Holt

The origin of Norwegian cuisine was once described to me as being designed around making the cheapest foods available last through a harsh winter. How else could one explain a countries food that includes Lutefisk? This special dish is salted white fish that has been preserved with lye. Lye is a highly caustic chemical which, amongst other things, is used in soap making. I'm convinced that Lutefisk was invented through a housewife's failed attempt at murder.

Given that many of the dishes in Norway were unfamiliar to me, you can understand my surprise and relief when I went into a cafe and saw a club sandwich on the menu. After a long and tiring flight, seeing that simple sandwich on a menu in a new country was like randomly meeting an old friend in a strange town.

For the uninitiated, the club sandwich is a constructed with 3 slices of bread where the middle slice of bread separates two distinct layers of hearty filling. Usually the bottom layer is thinly sliced turkey, while the top layer is bacon, lettuce and tomato. This club sandwich is usually cut into quarters and held in place with toothpicks.

I've been eating club sandwiches for many years so I didn't hesitate in ordering one in order to see how the people of Norway had made this sandwich their own.

When my sandwich arrived, I was surprised to find that, while there were three slices of bread, the bottom layer was not turkey, but rather a beautifully grilled chicken breast. My "Norwegian Club" was delicious and I decided that I should further explore the local influences on this sandwich.

All in all, I ate three club sandwiches in Norway which ranged in both the number of bread slices and overall quality. My favorite was eaten in a cafe attached to a small art gallery which was located just a short walk from my hotel. While this particular sandwich only had two slices of bread, the bread was thick and had been brushed with butter and grilled before being formed into a sandwich. The chicken breast was perfectly cooked and the bacon was a site to behold on it's own. Thick cut bacon cut in one inch pieces was piled impossibly high with another slice of golden toast perched upon it.

The sandwich was surely a sight, and I regret not having my camera with my to take a picture of it. Picking up this sandwich was impossible, so I resorted to a knife and fork. Washed down with 7-up in a glass bottle, this was by far the best club sandwich that I have ever had.

It's funny how often I think about that sandwich, all others which include bacon are instantly compared to that Norwegian marvel and they invariably fall short. If you ever find yourself scratching your head in a cafe in Norway, do yourself a favor and try the club, you're not likely to be disappointed.
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1 comment:

  1. Well it's that big and maybe I can't eat all of that(half of the sandwich maybe). For what I know, it's one of the favorites and the taste is that great where some of my friends teased me to taste the all time favorite "Norwegian Club Sandwich".