Musical pairing – Spanglish by Hans Zimmer
I am over-the-moon excited to introduce you to a friend of mine, Audrey who will now be a regular contributor here at Smith Bites! Audrey is a die-hard theme park junkie and is also a movie buff who also has her own movie blog – and will be writing about all things food relating to movies – doesn’t that sound like fun?!! When we first chatted about her being a contributor, we tossed around several ideas but when she finally said, ‘you know, I’ve been obsessed with making the infamous sandwich from Spanglish . . .’ and I have to tell you, the little hairs on my neck and arms stood on end . . . and the rest, as they say, is history. Take it away Audrey!
Hi. My name is Audrey and I confess to being an aspiring foodie who barely knows her way around a kitchen. You may remember me as the girl who didn’t understand the concept of a scone. And yet, almost exactly one year ago I was able to make some exquisite versions of the pastries with the help from Debra of Smith Bites. As I get older, and as I assume my husband’s tolerance for food poisoning can only last so long, I’m ready to learn how to cook well.
In an effort to blend this new world of culinary arts with my love of pop culture, I’ll be recreating food from some of my favorite movies. I’ll be making desserts from Harry Potter, bread from Lord of the Rings, and I just may give my own recipe of Trek-inspired Romulan Ale an intergalactic whirl. If anything can keep me motivated when I’m intimidated, when I want to lurk away and lick my knife and spatula wounds, it will be the interaction with the movies I know so well.
I wanted to start with the first bit of movie-inspired cooking that gave me a true grown-up feeling of reverence for food preparation. If you’ve ever seen the under-appreciated James L. Brooks neo-classic “Spanglish” then you already know the sandwich I’m about to attempt. I used to think I was alone when I marveled at the beautiful scene in which Adam Sandler’s character comes home exhausted from his day as a chef and prepares himself a beautiful egg sandwich. I first saw this scene just a month or so after my husband and I were married. I couldn’t sleep one night so I crept into the living room by moonlight in our shoebox sized rental house and popped in a DVD we snagged from the video store. It was “Spanglish”. The sandwich scene rang some sort of bell in me that never stopped resonating. I was a twenty three-year-old newlywed who barely knew how to fry a potato. I wanted to be as comfortable in the kitchen as that movie chef was. I wanted to take the basic ingredients of a sandwich and turn them into something magical. Something that might feed a future family.
By the way, when I think of an egg sandwich I imagine a hockey puck of soggy egg served on scorching hot bread through a fast food drive-thru before 10:30 a.m. (Or else no sandwich for you! They shut that baby down at 10:31 a.m. Not that I know from experience or anything.) Sandler’s character sees a potentially fresh and salty delight, something indulgent to be served with a tall cold one at the end of a long day. This idea of treating yourself to something gourmet shifted my food paradigm a little bit. I always felt like indulging meant one of those trips through the drive-through I just mentioned. So maybe the experience I had of watching that beautiful sandwich come together like a work of art was also the beginning of the idea that I too deserved a good meal.
Only when I went searching for the recipe did I find that I wasn’t alone in my desire to recreate this sandwich. It’s all over the internet and there’s even a special feature on the DVD titled “The World’s Greatest Sandwich” that shows how the consulting chef Thomas Keller created it.
This is the scene that launched a thousand movie geek foodies. It captivated us all, getting us up off our couches and sending us running to our kitchens to see if we could recreate the magic. Movies are one of my greatest passions in life, and the idea that I could be inspired to action instead of just passively watching one of them was also a revelation.
When the sandwich was finally assembled, I admit that it looked a tad underwhelming compared to the movie masterpiece I’d been dreaming of since that first inkling of wanting to venture into the culinary arts over five years ago. That’s one of the problems with a wild imagination and a visceral link to the glamour of movies…life can never quite live up. Sandwiches included. However, I also admit to skipping the accompanying beer. (A mistake I won’t make twice.) Added beer may repair that downed glamour filter next time.
All looks aside, the sandwich tasted FABULOUS. It was fresh. Almost like it had been picked pre-assembled off of some Seussian sandwich vine in a backyard garden. Sandwiches to me have always been wrapped in boiling-lava-hot foil. So this, this was a revelation. Cheesy as this sounds, I did it. The world didn’t implode, the kitchen didn’t catch fire. I made this sandwich and it was tasty! Just the experience of making a simple sandwich awakened something in me.
I told you about that long-ringing bell somewhere in my internal center. Well, I’ve been ignoring it for a while. I still don’t understand it. But it’s got something to do with food. And family. My safety net of movies is going to give me the courage to go forward in this little expedition of mine and I think I may discover not only a fondness toward better food, but maybe something a little bit deeper. Something about my motivation to go to all those drive throughs and why making food has made me so nervous in the past. Recipes shouldn’t make you nervous, right?
But this is only the beginning, there are many more Movie Bites to come…and probably a few more runs at the Spanglish Sandwich in my spare time. Here’s to learning how to tackle the things that intimidate you and the weird inspirations that give you the courage to do so!
WORLD’S GREATEST SANDWICH, AKA THE ‘SPANGLISH’ SANDWICH
developed specifically by Chef Thomas Keller for the movie
makes 1 sandwich
- 3-4 slices of bacon
- 2 slices of Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 slices of toasted rustic country loaf (pain de campagne – I used Ciabatta)
- 1 tbsp of mayo
- 4 tomato slices (even though you can’t see them, I used small Roma tomatoes)
- 2 leaves of butter lettuce (also known as Boston lettuce – I used romaine because that’s what we had)
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 egg
- Cook the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels
- Place slices of cheese on one side of toasted bread. Place in toaster oven or under broiler to melt.
- Spread mayo on other slice of bread top with bacon, sliced tomato, and lettuce
- On non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Fry egg, turning over briefly when the bottom is set (looking for a runny yolk here)
- Slide finished egg on top of lettuce, top with other slice of bread
- Place sandwich on plate and slice in half, letting yolk run down sandwich
BYLINE: Audrey Brown is a freelance journalist and voice over artist. She recently completed her M.A. in Creative Writing and was once mentioned in the Huffington Post by documentary director Mark Edlitz for her feminist thoughts on Princess Leia’s gold bikini. Audrey lives in Florida with her husband Jake and it is entirely possible that you will see the two of them running wild through Walt Disney World on any given day. If you wave at them, just remember that the Vulcan hand signal is just their way of waving back and not an obscene gesture. You can find Audrey at her blog Born For Geekdom.