Tag Archives: Sandwiches

Tuna Salad…? Really Dunkin Donuts? WTF.

I come back from a conference to this email from J:

I believe it was the tuna fish sandwich that finally sent me over the edge.

Tuna fish isn’t supposed to have that effect on people. With the exception of the brief mental interlude of the mid-90s where we all pretended we cared about dolphins enough to abstain from canned fish, tuna fish is known for its lack of ability to provoke. I reckon I could get the phrase, “bland as a can of tuna fish” to catch on or trend on Twitter if it wasn’t so damn many characters, because, well, how many times have you even thought about tuna fish?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I blame Dunkin Donuts.

Dunkin Donuts, which for as long as I can remember has dominated the breakfast market with its donuts, despite the recent shrinkage of variety and size but not price, has apparently decided that they want to start serving lunch too. One of their officers announced as much to the financial paper of record when he said that the challenge would be to develop a slate of menu items that would attract a lunch crowd without turning off their primary breakfast market.

So the Dunkin Donuts brain trust got together and decided first they’d try tuna fish.

I’ve only seen the pictures and it looks like it has a lot of celery. I don’t want to try it, because it’s possible that my one purchase could skew their data enough to think that the whole idea is a raging success and if my life is to have any meaning it is to not encourage stupidity. I’ve given up on trying to make people smarter. As I watch our civilization decline a good part of me finds myself not caring as long as I can still watch reruns of my favorite shows on Netflix, but when I see the signage outside of Dunkin Donuts for a tuna fish sandwich it makes me want to stand astride the wave of civilization’s progress and shout STOP!!!

Ew.

The tuna fish sandwich is the last straw, but I’ve been watching this trend for a long time.

McDonalds started serving salads a couple of years ago. The chain that had made qui-billions (by the way, when did they stop counting how many billions served on the signs?) selling fast burgers and delicious french fries that Morgan Spurlock taught us never go bad, had come under a wave of bad publicity because Americans were getting fatter and it must have been happening because they were eating more McDonalds.

Interestingly, these stories started pouring out right around the time McDonalds was seeing real sales declines, but no matter. McDonalds decided to change its image by starting to offer salads, which, truth be told, are higher in calories than the average cheeseburger, and their spokesmen said that in a few years they would become for salads what they had been for hamburgers.

I hope not. I don’t go to McDonalds as often as I used to, but when I do go I get a burger or a chicken sandwich and I do not subject my children to those sliced apples masquerading as fries.

Taco Bell, which I practically lived off of during college because everything was either 59, 79 or 99 cents, recently started trying to pretend it was a high end Mexican restaurant by offering shrimp tacos. I am pleased to see that the marvelous science of aquaculture has brought the price of shrimp down to where it can be stuffed into a fast food taco, but if a restaurant can’t verify its meat is real I’m not trusting it with seafood.

Mercifully, the shrimp tacos didn’t seem to catch on, but that hasn’t stopped other stupidity from rearing its ugly head.

When I open a restaurant, it will have five items, including one vegetarian option for the self-important snot head who thinks they are better than everyone else because they eat grass. If you don’t like those five items, you can eat somewhere else.

I am not serving donuts and tuna on the same plate.

Now who wants pie?

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On the road…again.

On 11/10/10 at 11:05 a.m. J writes:

So I’ve been on the road again a good bit this week, but not really on the road, which means that I get my food stipend and can eat in places that I normally wouldn’t, because, well, I’m cheap. So food trucks serve a special niche for me because of their low cost goodness.

And before everyone starts to get all upity on me, you should know that some very highly placed journalists and industry PR people have enjoyed food trucks as well, so smoke on your pipe and put that in, or whatever.

This week though I was taking some out-of-town friends and colleagues out for a Philadelphia cheesesteak. They said they wanted the authentic experience, which, of course, as we all know, means Pat’s, Geno’s or Jim’s. We eliminated Pat’s and Geno’s because it was 30 degrees and while I do have fond memories of eating a cheesesteak from Pat’s at 3:00 a.m. when it was 12 degrees out, with my friends and I all saying various versions of, “YOU GOTTA WANT IT!!!” I think I might have been drunk at the time. So my memory might be cloudy.

Anyway, we went to Jim’s. Jim’s is the cheesesteak place on 4th and South. It has pictures of famous people and it sells T-shirts and hats. I’m not ready to call this an iron-clad rule yet, but if you are selling hats and reminding people that famous people once ate there, presumably before veganism and vegetarianism became morally superior, you really aren’t thinking about your food anymore.

We got to Jim’s at around 6:00 p.m. on a Sunday night and the line was out the door. There were people from Germany, Montreal and what I assume were other foreign countries because the line moved in an orderly non-disruptive fashion, so it’s unlikely they were all from Philadelphia.

My companions and I kept in good humor as we waited in line at the cheesesteak stand. By the time we got to the grill, I had in mind what I wanted to order. Whiz with extra whiz. My female companion behind me said she wanted the same thing, and the other dude ordered the same thing without onions.

We managed to find tables upstairs surprisingly easily given the crowd in the lobby, but while I enjoyed the company, the food was a total disappointment. I had paid $.70 for extra whiz, and I was left wondering what a normal whiz steak would have looked like. Part of the charm of a Philadelphia cheesesteak is when the whiz drips out onto the wrapper and you can sop it up with what’s left of your roll like a biscuit. But on this cheesesteak I couldn’t even taste the whiz.

In fact, all I could really taste were the onions, which were piled on top, rather than grilled into the meat like they are supposed to be and not quite cooked right. The bread was cold.

I paid $10.50 for the experience; money wasted.

On Tuesday night I wound up working late again and walked through the Gallery Mall. There’s a steak place there called Charley’s Fried Steaks, which gives out excellent samples on days when you are lucky. But here’s the thing- the actual cheesesteaks you pay for are not nearly as good as the sample.

I ordered the chicken club, which was supposed to come with cheese, bacon, tomatoes and lettuce. They grilled it, and didn’t put any bacon on it, which was my first disappointment.

Then they sent it down the assembly line to a surly little man who stood in front of the fixings bar. He stared at me. Not, with a “what would you like, sir?” smile but with a “what do you want?” look that didn’t have a question with it. I was going to say just put on what it’s supposed to have on it, but since they had already screwed up the bacon, I didn’t have much hope that they’d get the rest of the sandwich right so I proceeded to make my own creation.

And it didn’t work out. The combination of swiss cheese (yes, swiss cheese), ranch (I choked) and hot peppers (again, another mistake) made the whole sandwich a disappointment.

Equally disappointing were the cheese fries, which I had paid a premium for and which, well, wound up being far too soggy.

I paid $11.67 for the experience. Money wasted.

From now on, I’m just sticking with the food trucks.

Now who wants pie?

Airport Musings

J was traveling (now we’re both on the road), but at the time, I was still at the office. He writes:
First, “your participation is wonderful news,” is a nice touch. To me, it looks like you were getting bored with saying the same thing over and over again, but to the outside world it appears as if you are almost enthusiastic. 
 
Second, did you know the airport had a Chic Fil A? I was sitting at Gate A7 waiting for my flight when I heard over the radio the commercial for food including, “the Original Chicken Sandwich from Chic Fil A.” So I started on my quest.
 
It wasn’t down my hall. It wasn’t down the International Hall that was the other side of Terminal A and yes, is about a mile long.
 
The nice woman who runs the pretzel stand informed me that yes there truly was a Chic Fil A in the airport but it was in terminal B.
 
A lesser man with less time on his hands might might have said, “screw it just give me one of your pretzels.” Not me. I took the express walk way to terminal B.
 
You know how far $25 goes at Chic Fil A? Yes, I’ll take the Chicken Nugget meal, please. No not the eight piece, the twelve piece, thanks. And yes, I would like it large. Lemonade costs extra? Damn the costs! Fill her up and while you are at it throw in an extra chicken sandwich. I may eat it, I may not, but put it in the bag anyway.
 
Oh, and yeah, I’ll need a chocolate brownie for dessert.
 
I ate it all, including the brownie, which, incidentally she initially didn’t remember to put in the bag–it’s nice to know that incompetence (or did she intentionally leave it out thinking I wouldn’t come back asking for it? We’ll never know) is the same at every fast food restaurant.
 
But here’s the crazy thing. THEY HAVE FREE SAMPLES AT THE AIRPORT FOOD COURT!!!!!! And not just any free samples, free samples of the garlic balls from Sbarro with the garlic dipping sauce that I thought only existed in the pizzas from Papa Johns where you had to order an entire pizza just so you could dip your crust in the sauce that was not quite butter but oh so very good.
 
I took two of these garlic balls before I got a glare from the flunky who was passing them out. Hey pal, if you don’t want people taking your samples, don’t give them out, know what I mean?
 
That’s all for now.
Cheers,
J
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I enthuse:
THIS MADE MY DAY IN A WAY YOU CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE.
 
I LOVE that just when I was sadly thinking to myself, “Self-you’re just going to have to get over the fact that you won’t be getting any hilarious emails from J until Monday at the earliest” you go and send me a gem such as this.
 
Bravo.
 
And yes. I was getting bored with saying the same thing over and over. I also figured I’d give answering actual questions a shot, because hey, gotta start sometime, nah’ mean?
 
I’m surprised you didn’t get a milkshake a Chick Fil A. I’ve never heard one but I heard they’re absolutely delish.
 
Just sayin.
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J responds:
Ha!
 
Here’s the thing…they didn’t have milkshakes. The Chic Fil A at the airport has, how do I say this, a limited selection. No milkshakes and interestingly no spicy chicken sandwich.
 
Want to know what’s not cool? Carried on this time because I only needed one change of clothes and they confiscated my toothpaste and my shaving cream. Not cool. I thought it was just fluid.
 
Oh well.
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Me:
That is so NOT cool.

I do not dig that airports have an extremely limited food selection. Especially the pizza places. How hard is it to recombine the dough, cheese, and sauce into something other than pizza and ziti? I mean, really. It can’t be that hard. That’s why it’s next to impossible to screw up Italian food. You can have different degrees of deliciousness when it comes to Italian, and differing levels of goodness as well, but no one in their right mind takes a bit of something that contains dough, cheese, and tomato sauce and spits it out with, “That is complete crap.”
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J:
I don’t know man. There was a perfectly good Italian place in my terminal that I passed by. They did have a chicken sandwich, but….
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Me:
…you’d rather have Chick-Fil-A.
 
No, it’s cool. I get it.
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J prophesizes:
Because I got the distinct feeling that this place WOULD screw up Italian food.
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True dat. Such is airport food.

Hey…there’s a Chick-Fil-A back there!

Post-Lunch, Pre-Labor Day Observations

I begged J to write a blog post, thankfully, he acquiesced today at 1:18 pm:

So today was a rather productive lunch hour.

First, I went to Borders. Rather disappointing. I had gone because the store had enticed me with a 40 percent off coupon that had to be used before Labor Day and I’m going to be busy all weekend. Thing is, the Borders at 13th and Chestnut doesn’t really have a non-fiction section, so I wasn’t sure where the book I wanted, “MORNING MIRACLE: INSIDE THE DECLINE OF THE WASHINGTON POST,” was going to be.

So I went to the computer and typed it in. Within about three seconds some pimple faced kid was on me like I was going to discover his porn collection with the ubiquitous, “can I help you sir?” I told him I had done a search for the book I wanted and it was showing, “not in store.” He said that was right, but if I wanted they could order it for me and it would be in within three to eight business days.

That seemed an inordinately long amount of time for a business that had a separate online operation that can deliver things in 24 hours, so I thanked him for nothing and went on my way.

And here’s the thing that really annoyed me about Borders. I used their bathroom. It was painted bright yellow. I don’t want to quibble, but should we really be painting a place where you pee bright yellow?

I’m just saying.

Is that little boy holding a GUN?

On my way back I walked through the Gallery. Sampling was a mixed bag today. They had the Charley’s Cheese Steak samples out, but she had gone back for a new sandwich when I passed through the first time. Out of three places that serve Bourbon chicken, only one was giving it away. And my little retarded friend that gives away chicken nuggets was nowhere to be found.

Auntie Anne’s was giving away free pieces of their pretzel covered hot dogs. I took two samples and got a glare. Is it coming out of your pocket pal?

Speaking of Chic-fil-a, I finally bought their Spicy Chicken Sandwich. It was a little disappointing. I mean it’s basically just a spicy version of their regular chicken sandwich, which I suppose I should have expected, but it still left me with a certain emptiness.

And for reasons I have never understood, Chic-fil-a puts just pickles on their chicken sandwich. Not free lettuce, not free tomatoes. Free pickles.

Pickles have a very distinct taste and they don’t really add anything to the sandwich.

Again, I’m just saying.

Fast Food, It Gives So Much and Asks for So Little

J writes via email at 2:52 p.m.

So on my way back on my walk today I stopped by the KFC in the Gallery Mall and got one of those boneless chicken filets; fried, not grilled. As an aside, if you order the grilled chicken because it is more healthy I submit you are an idiot. If you want to be healthy, don’t eat at KFC. Grilled chicken will just remind you that fast food chicken is not the same product they serve at fine restaurants and breading and deep frying covers over a multitude of sins.

There's another chicken in that chicken.

Anyway, I ordered the boneless fried chicken breast. This comes without the bun or any other garnishment for $2, or $2.14 with tax. Money well spent, but I also got:

The opportunity to give feedback. Yeah, I called the survey on the back of the form. I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say, but then again I seldom do as readers of this blog will attest (have you noticed that while methods of communication have proliferated we haven’t had anything worthwhile to say in them?), but I punched all the keys and did my thing. I hope I made a difference. Sometimes you just gotta get shit done because shit doesn’t get done by itself, know what I mean?

I was motivated to do the survey because if you do the survey you get entered into a drawing for $1,000. This made it sort of like a scratch and win lottery ticket. When I was in high school, I was addicted to scratch and win lottery tickets because in Ohio they didn’t do things like check IDs. I won $100 once and spent a lot of money trying to win $100 again. But I didn’t consider it money wasted because I enjoyed the time I spent scratching off the win columns. These tickets are at least $2 and up now, so in a sense my chicken was free because I had the opportunity to win $1,000. No, I didn’t win, but people don’t win the actual lottery much either.

And on top of everything else, they gave me a coupon for $1 off the new doublelicious combo, which is KFC’s way of saying they are not even trying to pretend they are healthy anymore. From the picture it looks like the restaurant’s answer to the idea that the double down was a bit too much because it’s a chicken patty with cheese, bacon and that special sauce that you can never reproduce because it’s made 1,000 gallons at a time. Interestingly they do have a grilled version, but it’s much smaller in the picture and has lettuce, so I guess they are trying. Good for them. I’m not going to eat it, but good for them.
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I respond:

I wanted to say this about KFC:

I can’t eat there anymore. And no, not just because I’m a vegetarian. Because I have reason to believe they put MSG in their food.

Who cares about MSG when it makes things more delicious?

Me. I do. Because the last time I had KFC (3 years ago), I had an allergic reaction. And not just “ooooh, my stomach hurts and I feel crappy” but like, a true allergic reaction;  hives, itching, sneezing, migraine.

My roommates and I lived in the ghetto of New Brunswick a short drive from a KFC. We saw an ad for a meal special: $7 and you get two sides (hello mac and cheese and mashed potatoes!), chicken, biscuits, and a soda. Why yes please! I’m in college, poor, hungry, and have low food standards, sure! I’d LOVE some comfort food.

Never again.

Bad shit man, mess you up.
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J retorts:

I think I heard this story before. You are starting to do repeats.

I think you may have even used the same tone and inflection when describing your love of mac and cheese and mashed potatoes.
________________________________________________________________________________________________
I sass back:

Look. We spend a lot of time together. I guess I’m sorry about the repeats. Not really though, because I wouldn’t repeat myself if you talked about something other than KFC and their doubledown sandwich.

So I say: Get used to it.

And I believe in spreading the gospel about KFC and the MSG in their food, ok? IT WAS AWFUL. Awful! My roommates got sick too. We were all out of commish for two whole days. That’s disgusting. For food!…that was alright I guess, but if we had just pooled our cash we could have prepared a chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and bought the mac and cheese at Wawa, it would have been MORE tasty and not as intestine-destroying.

And I believe in the beauty of a well-done macaroni and cheese.

And a free America.

What?

I’m just sayin.
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J replies:

Repeats aren’t all bad, I suppose. I do still like Seinfeld even though I could quote almost all the episodes by heart.

FREE TIBET!

Dysfunctional Family-style Dining

Via email today at 2:05 p.m., J writes:

I like the Atlantic, mostly because it can be smart and pretentious about just about anything including now ordering Chinese food:

http://www.theatlantic.com/food/archive/2010/07/the-dos-and-dont-of-ordering-chinese/60324/

The money quote for me is here:

Finally, enjoy your food communally. A Chinese meal is a social event meant to break down boundaries, not build them. There’s nothing sadder in a Chinese restaurant than seeing a table where eaters guard their individual portions of beef with broccoli or sweet and sour pork like inmates in the prison mess hall. There’s nothing happier than sitting at a big round table where every diner is eager to try everything. The tea is poured; the waiters cover the table with an array of fragrant, multi-hued dishes; and the chopsticks dart here and there. The lazy Susan revolves as the diners discuss the relative merits of the dishes. A sweet air of contentment settles over all.

Dress it up anyway you like, dude, I’m still not giving you any of my General Tso’s chicken. I notice that his lyrical description of what could be did not include anyone fighting over pea pods or steamed broccoli.

I’ve spoken on this before, but it still rings true. If you want something, order it. If you have food envy, that’s not my problem.

Just lay off my food, OK?
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I write:

Also, something tells me that the “communalism” that he is searching for when dining Chinese, does NOT extend to P.F. Chang’s, which, conveniently serves all of their dishes “family style.”
___________________________________________________________________________________________
J responds:

Family style. That’s so dysfunctional. I can eat a whole “family style” dish on my own and in my family everyone knows to stay away from everyone else’s food.

J is the salty looking boy to Nanna's right.

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I reply:

!

I enjoy the use of “dysfunctional” with reference to “family style”…very much so.

In my family, my brother used to go around picking food off of people’s plates. He would sidle up next to you and eat what was still there. Luckily, I was a picky eater (probably because of my blasted food allergies) so he could go to town, family style, all over my dinner. In my family, it is well known that I am an extraordinarily slow eater. I’d still be eating when the dishes began getting washed.

I know you’re going to go bananas about this and tell me it’s a sacrilege or something, but I don’t care:

I am finally, FINALLY eating the falafel pita I have been craving for TWO WEEKS. Since before my bike race, and even more intensely thereafters.

If you’re not down with falafel then you’re missing out. It’s the closest dining experience you can get to a burger when you’re a vegetarian without consuming simulated meat. It’s glorious.
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J questions:

Where did you get a falafel pita?
________________________________________________________________________________________________
I answer:

Maoz Vegetarian, on 12th and Walnut.

By the way, this article is so pretensh I can barely stand it.

“Only barbarians spear their meat with forks; learn how to use chopsticks.”
________________________________________________________________________________________________
J supplies:

Cool.

Speaking of eccentric restaurants, I discovered a Turkish place on my walk today
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Me quoting The Atlantic article:

“In enjoying a meal, you express not only your tastes but your bonds to the other diners and your connection to the larger, human culture. That’s something to think about the next time your order at any restaurant.”

The whole point of Cake In The Conference Room.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
J agrees:

Yep. If we can’t make the Salt and Sweet Snack Expo, perhaps we can get placement on Atlantic.com.

I sort of want to go to Comic Con anyway.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Me:

1)      We will.
2)      Is there a way to blend food and comics? I think we should find a way. And graphic artist.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
J:

Anyone in this office who can draw?
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Me:

It also just occurred to me “communal” is a lot like “communism” and this article is about the cuisine of China and The Atlantic is liberal.

Just sayin.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
(This next part was spoken-or rather shouted over the tops of cubes-between J, E, and myself.)

J: This just occurred to you?! I thought it was obvious. So obvious, in fact, that I didn’t even bother to point it out. Wow, you really fell asleep at the switch on this one.
Me: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. You’re just making a big deal out of this because I called you out for saying “fox reservation” instead of “faux reservation” this morning!
J: Maybe! Maybe!
(I explain to E how J came by my cube and mispronounced “faux.”)
E: Ooooh! When you said “faux” I thought you mean he had a reservation for “pho”…like the Vietnamese food. I found that pretty unlikely, that he would want pho, but he has been trying to expand his palette.
________________________________________________________________________________________________
(The following correspondence is an edit to the original post, which did not include the email conversation below):

I email: New post is up.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
J writes:

You’re a genius.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Me:

I’m only as good as the material I am given to work with.

I almost named the post “Faux Sho’” but that would have…

1)      Been reference something much further at the end of the post and not indicative of the post as a whole, and

2)      Have sort of violated that thing I have about putting an apostrophe to take the place of letters at the end of a word.

So, I didn’t.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________
J replies:

No, your genius is in getting my faux pas about faux into the post, which I think has been your intention all day.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Me:

IT HAS!

I’m sly like a faux.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
J:

Or you just need more to do.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Pho sho.

By the way…

Via e-mail at 3:24 p.m.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
J writes:

…you’d be proud of me. I had a chicken cutlet sandwich for lunch. It had broccoli rabe on it. I ate the first half of the sandwich with the broccoli rabe on it. Not the second half, but the first half I did. It’s growth man, growth.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
I respond:

I AM so proud!

Could you even taste the rabe? Or was it a texture thing?
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
J bounces back:

A little of both. My previous experience with broccoli rabe was that it was almost inconsequential. It was small flecks of green stuff that claimed to be broccoli, but I couldn’t tell. More importantly, I couldn’t really taste broccoli, so I just went with it. This sandwich had huge broccoli florets that were impossible to avoid and, well, tasted a lot like broccoli. The problem was this sandwich had the sharp provolone cheese melted on top of it, so you couldn’t just pick the broccoli off without losing the cheese. On the second half of the sandwich I cut my losses.

Actually I spent most of the lunch distracted by the bread crumb in R’s head.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________
I retort:

Are you one of those people that doesn’t like broccoli? Or more accurately, one of “those people” that despises it?

Because I love Love LOVE broccoli. It’s one of the only vegetables I have liked all of my life. However, I only like it fresh (not cooked).

So I can see how broccoli rabe may have been a challenge for you as far as texture goes. But taste…mmmmm, broccoli tastes delish.

In regards to the cheese on top of the broccoli, I don’t understand why restaurants put cheese anywhere on a sandwich but directly on top (or on bottom) of the hunk of meat the sandwich is built around. I really don’t. This is why Taco Bell confuses me. PUT THE CHEESE DIRECTLY ON TOP OF THE MEAT.  It’s like they don’t want the cheese to melt.

But regardless, I am proud-very. Is Indian food up next?

Also-who is R?
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
J writes back:

I don’t like broccoli. If that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right. I don’t even like the look or the smell of it.

Your point on how cheese must be on top of meat is valid and well taken. The thing is though, with this sandwich, the cheese had melted on top of the broccoli, but when I attempted to remove the broccoli I managed to save most of the cheese, because as anyone who knows about cheese will tell you, provolone does not melt well.

It also didn’t help that R had ordered a vegetable sandwich; that was two points against her from the start.

I’ve had Indian food. Didn’t I tell you about my adventures at the Indian food buffet?

R is the new ***** ****** person in the ** office.
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