Days on the trail are quiet. Most of the social activity happens at the shelters. Every once in a while, you chat with someone as you walk, if you are on the same pace. (Keep in mind, it’s only been 2 weeks on the trail, so we are all still finding our tribes)
It’s quiet and peaceful on the trail. When you stop for a second and listen, you realize you are the loudest things out there, your trekking poles are like cymbals in a marching band. I haven’t wanted to listen to music or books yet, since that would then be the loudest thing in my ears.
So you have lots and lots and lots of time to think. It’s goes something like this:
“I want a BLT. That sounds great. But what would be the ULTIMATE BLT?
Well, let’s start with the bread. Probably should do sourdough. Loafs are usually wider so a bit more room and it has a bit more strength. Like between the too soft wonder bread and the 18 grain, can’t bend around a hot dog crap.
Toast it? Hmm…but now both sides will be crunchy. Is that optimal? Need those holes to hold the mayo. How about grilled with butter? Yes, surely. But let’s only grill one side so the inside stays soft and the outside is golden, with a light crunch, and buttery good. Mmmm.
Bacon. Well we all know that a BLT is really a bacon sandwich with some veggies. In the same way that, as a Chart House manager once told me: ‘A martini is a classy way for an old lady to order a shot of vodka.’.
Thick cut of course. Don’t skimp on this. Get the good stuff.
Straight off the grill is vital. Hot greasy bacon is where it is at. Of the 3 ingredients, bacon should be the preponderance so make sure you cook enough. Or maybe you bake the bacon in the oven and put on a hint of brown sugar? Unorthodox for sure but certainly worth a try. The sweet/savory is usually a good combination.
Lettuce. Hmm…not my forte. Iceberg is always the go-to when you need coolness and crunch, but not a lot of flavor. Romaine is a good choice. Don’t want to get too fancy and turn this thing into some artisanal greens salad bullshit. But definitely chilled for contrast.
Tomatoes: Got to go heirloom here. Donnell Peters shattered my idea of tomatoes with her magnificent heirlooms, bursting with flavor and deep, rich colors. So, no bland, weak supermarket versions. We need the good stuff. This might make the masterpiece slightly seasonal, but it’s worth it.
Now: Do we want to blue blaze this a bit and go deeper? In New Zealand, I recall, they do BLATs, where the A is for Avocado. I don’t see anything wrong there…a bit more creaminess and subtle flavor. Sure, sounds good.
Cheese? Let me stop you right there. This sandwich, comrade, is not designed to be raised on a flag pole in Red Square. While there is a time and a place for cheese, this ain’t it.
There is always grilled cheese, which we can think about tomorrow. A slice of pear with a chunk of Parm Reggiano with a drizzle of honey is the snack of the gods. No one is going to complain about a thick slice of brie in you turkey and cranberry sandwich on toasted whole wheat. A Caprese salad is a marvel of simplicity and freshness, sure. But the BLT, it has no place.
In building things of quality, order of operations can be vital.
Cut tomatoes and lettuce first and keep in fridge. Lettuce should be as big or just slightly bigger than the bread. Don’t need stuff sagging out of the sandwich.
Cook the bacon. Golden brown; not too dark so that it shatters and falls out. That’s no ok. And limp, undercooked bacon: Like cold butter, a sure sign that someone doesn’t like you.
Perfectly done is perfectly right. Always cook more than you think, for sampling and principle.
And if you are real good, you pan will be big enough that you can grill the bread IN the bacon grease. Remember that we are only grilling one side. A perfect golden brown is where it’s at.
Mayo goes on the bread directly, coating both inner faces generously. Lettuce and tomato go on one side. Then bacon, still warm gets generously stacked. Flip to complete and eat!”
Repeat, with edits and nuance, in your head, for 6 hours and/or for days, until you can eat an actual BLT.