Retro Relapse: Sub Making Is A Dying Art

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

When I’m not eating glorious amounts of red meat and bacon, I am usually eating a monstrous and awesome submarine sandwich. Unlike most people, I don’t have just one spot that I go to. I look at sandwiches as art and when it comes to subs, every place makes them in their own special way. I regularly go to Publix, Jersey Mike’s, Jimmy John’s, Sweetbay, Winn-Dixie, Firehouse, Quiznos, several mom and pop joints and pretty much anywhere else that you can get a sub. Although I do occasionally hit up Subway, I typically avoid it at all costs and if I do give in, I am quickly reminded as to why I stay away from the damned place.

Considering that I do frequent many places in the submarine sandwich world, I have more insight into what is going on in the industry. In a time where the world has been moving towards more automation and machine made goods, handcrafted skills have been slowly replaced. The art of sub making however, is something that should never die. I don’t think I’ve ever had a machine made sub but it wouldn’t surprise me if such a thing existed.

Being that subs are a hand-made delicacy, they are given extra special care and should be made with an undying passion for a necessary craft that should never die. I say “should” because I’ve had too many instances lately, of people making really shitty subs. I don’t know how such a thing as a shitty sub is even possible but the people I find working in a lot of these places now, apparently have no clue how to make a fucking sub or they just don’t give a shit.

My most recent bad experience is the freshest in my mind, so let me talk about that.

To start, I ordered an Italian, my preferred sandwich on most days. This woman didn’t know what meat went on the sub and actually put some turkey on it. Being the good sport I am, I didn’t correct her because I thought, “Hey, that’s something new, I’ll try it.” She then asked what cheese I wanted. I said, “provolone.” She then asked what veggies I wanted before putting the cheese on. I told her what I wanted and instructed that I would also like sub dressing. So what does she do? Well, she splashes the meat with sub dressing before putting the vegetables on it. Uh.. what the fuck? She then puts the vegetables on in giant fistfuls. She didn’t even strain the juice dripping from the vegetables. I got about 4 oz. of olive juice on my sub because she just grabbed them and dumped them on without care. She then covered the mountain of veggies with cheese slices that wouldn’t stay on top of the veggie mountain because that is not where one puts the damn cheese!

I took it home and tried to eat it. The sub dressing immediately shot down my arm, as it wasn’t soaked up in the shredded lettuce, as it should be. The bread was also soggy as fuck. Did I mention that there was too much mayonnaise and mustard? Thus, white and yellow goop kept spooging out between my fingers. The cheese was just an appetizer as it wouldn’t stay on the sub so I ate the slices by themselves. The sandwich was a sloppy mess.

Either this woman has never made a submarine sandwich or she is mentally handicapped. Now this isn’t a rare occurrence, as I’ve had similar issues at other places over the last few months. Granted, different people make your sub each time but that is what’s cool about it, as everyone has a slightly different way of doing it. When I walk into my favorite sandwich joints, I usually know which guy or gal to go to, if I have a choice. Some people make great subs, others make good subs. Until recently, I hadn’t come across many people that make truly awful subs.

I blame the managers or the trainers in these places. You need to have strict protocols and hire people who aren’t completely insane or stupid. Make these people make you a sandwich, you eat it and then ask yourself, “Does this person have the artistry to make sandwiches in my awesome shop?” Then you follow that up by making them make you nine more sandwiches. After 10 total subs, you should have a good grasp as to whether or not they can cut it.

You see, sub making is important; it is an art form and should always be treated as such. When you’ve had a tough morning at work and just want a tasty sandwich to solve the day’s problems, getting stuck with some soggy gooey giant blob that is impossible to eat and just sloppily gross, is a giant fucking bummer.

Sub making isn’t hard, it should be common sense. I mean, at this point, hasn’t everyone in the free world ordered a sub multiple times and seen how they should be made? The order of the ingredients is key. It’s not a goddamned puzzle! Additionally, giant fistfuls of every ingredient is asinine. If you can’t fold and cut the sub, you’re a moron who needs to scale it back a bit.

Maybe I just have certain standards that others don’t. Maybe I care about doing things right and making the best effort possible. Maybe I worship food too much. Whatever the case, I don’t really care. The point is, Leonardo da Vinci didn’t paint the Mona Lisa with piss.

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