Lately we’ve been going over many of the arguments that have come up over the long years in the culinary domain. The 3rd slice of bread found within the classic club sandwich has often come under fire, but there are those that love its presence within their sandwich.
Today we’ll look at just what the purpose of that 3rd slice is and how important to your meal it actually might be—or even if it’s necessary at all.
If you remember Ross Geller on Friends (played expertly by the talented David Schwimmer)…well he called the 3rd slice of bread in a sandwich “The Moist Maker!” This from the leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwich form Monica’s (the character’s sister) epic holiday dinners.
He of course has the sandwich stolen at work, and the whole ordeal causes him to essentially be forced on sabbatical because of the fit he pulls when he finds out the awful sandwich thief was none other than his boss at the museum where he worked as a paleontologist.
Now, why was it necessary to take this trip down memory sitcom lane from days of television history that are long gone and wish I could have back again?
Well, to show you dear readers, that people out there—and not just Ross—can get pretty serious about that 3rd slice of bread in any sandwich. I learned that lesson the hard way…
What is it people love about that 3rd slice of bread in a club sandwich?
Imagine if you will, you go to the blessed golden arches, as I call McDonald’s, and you get served a Big Mac of all things, and Bang! …there’s no third slice of bread at the center!?
I think you’d be pretty irate. Enough to lose your job I don’t know, but you’d be pretty upset just the same I’d imagine.
But coming to the club sandwich, the star item of this piece, people are a little more on the fence when it comes to that 3rd slice of bread.
I worked as a cook in Montreal on and off as I worked on my writing early on…had been since I was a young teenager really, and I clocked in a few decent hours. A major job I most often got was working at diners and cafeterias or reception halls.
It was at one particular diner that I got pretty good at making the classic club sandwich. Three slices of bread…bottom was made with warmed chicken and crispy bacon, that center slice of bread was placed on top of that first layer, then a dollop of mayo, slices of tomato, a few extra slices of bacon, then lettuce and on the top piece of bread more mayo on the top slice of bread.
*Recipes may vary…
I mean the clients couldn’t get enough. It had been a staple at the place before I got there. In fact before I was born. It was a Montreal institution in the seventies.
I made so many I eventually got really good and the chef put me on that station alone. Lunch, we served a whopping two-hundred to three-hundred and fifty covers a day during the week, and a good 75% of those orders were clubs. It got to a point where I could make a complete club in exactly 17 seconds. I kid you not, dear readers.
The job paid for a lot of printing paper, notebooks and more pens than you could imagine, so I put up with it all.
The thing was though, I eventually left that gig and worked a little on my writing. Then as the roller coaster of a writer’s life actually is and always has been (serious writers at least), I was back on the line in some kitchen half a year later. But when it came to making club sandwiches again, I had had enough. Could you blame me?
So anyways, I needed the job, but I had an idea. What if I made the sandwiches on ciabatta buns instead, and put a toothpick through the works with a cherry tomato attached—serve it like that…you know: Tada! Would the clients buy into it? I asked the chef.
I remember him actually scratching his chin and looking up at a spot on the ceiling like countless cartoon characters I had often watched do on screen. He said in his French-Canadian accent: “Okay…we try.” And that was that.
He put in an order for ciabatta bread, and off we were to the races…
The first few weeks they loved it. Orders even went up for club sandwiches. They were selling like hotcakes, to use the old cliché. But then it all just stopped.
After a month the train slowed to an absolute stop…just like that. “Hey, Dom…we go back to old way for clubs.”
I didn’t ask questions. (I learned not to over time working in kitchens.) For the remainder of my time there, I toasted the three slices of bread like I had done thousands of times over at the other places I had worked, and for the excruciatingly long three months I worked there I actually cursed that 3rd slice of bread.
Author, food writer and former chef, Anthony Bourdain once said about the 3rd slice of bread in the club sandwich:
"“The third slice of bread on a club sandwich, I think, is a satanic invention.”-via Quote Catalog / Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! podcast (2016)"
But I learned something dear readers…people go to comfort food because of the familiarity of it. It’s that familiarity that breeds comfort and thus if that classic aspect of something that is so beloved is taken away, then well, the aspect that makes it comfort is lost and gone as well.
For the record, it took me a while, but I finally got back to eating club sandwiches and yeah with the 3rd slice of bread right there at the center. (Sorry, Anthony). But I always give a thought to the poor cooks back there and send vibes out to them, letting them know I very much feel their pain.
What about you dear readers? The 3rd slice: yea or nay? Let us know.