When I asked my Facebook friends about their favorite sandwich, the responses piled on like Italian cold cuts in a muffaletta. People LOVE sandwiches. I love sandwiches TOO, which is why I'm taking everyone out to try the sandwich that is dear to their heart. The Sandwich Project is our journey and the exploration of what lies between two pieces of bread.
Peter Habib's Facebook response: "3-way tie for recent obsessions. On The Bird, Olive Stick @ Bread Lounge; Catalan Sausage @ Tumaca Trvk ; Mezcal Fidencio, in a mug, @ home"
To his friends, Peter is known as "The Primo Ballerino" or "The Primo" for short, a name he dubbed himself. This choice might seem perplexing at first, but with a slow walk such as his (one you can only hear when you’re listening for it) he is somewhat of a ballerino- delicate, calm, and purposeful. The Primo is a mystery. One who constantly ruminates on things far longer than most of us would, like the complicated methods of coffee making, political nuances of Northern Ireland, Tolstoy, and heavy metal.
When I asked Facebook about sandwiches, responses poured in that made sense as far as a traditional sandwich is concerned- stuff between two pieces of bread. Until The Primo chimed in with three choices, including the peculiar "mezcal in a mug." If I had a mustache like his to twirl while pondering this, I would’ve. But alas. I am a lady. I do not have a mustache. Most of the time.
Since my favorite sandwich is On the Bird at Bread Lounge and since mezcal in a mug is not a sandwich, I took him to the Tumaca Truck for his second choice: Catalan Sausage, a free range pork sausage nestled in a warm bun and topped with crispy onions, Piparra peppers, mayo, chives, brava sauce $11
Tumaca Truck is like the magic school bus, with its cheery coloring and warm smiles. Bouncing through the city, it educates hungry Angelenos on the flavors of Spaniard fare. Driven by a darling married couple from Spain, it’s difficult to pass by this roaming eatery without trying some of its yummies. The Serrano Ham sammy is one that you might think about for days after eating it, and the potato bravas go down like popcorn (but like scorching hot popcorn, so be careful, ok?). We sat down on a Thursday, on a bench outside of Blue Bottle in the Arts District. With just a foot of shade, we nudged close to share the respite from the sun.
“Pete, what is a sandwich?” I ask him because his favorite sandwiches are questionable at best.
He takes a bite and slowly looks up to the sky, pondering the meaning of a sandwich. It takes him a minute. To The Primo, this is a complicated question. Then he begins.
“If there aren’t specific elements involved like bread and meat...which there can’t be because that’s too restrictive...then the next question is all about the verb, sandwiching.” I grab the Catalan Sausage and bite through the popping peppers and casing, which are cooled slightly by the rich slathering of sauce. This isn’t your traditional sandwich, but The Primo isn't traditional. “Or at least it’s pretty close to one- it’s got bread, even though it’s a bun, it’s got meat, even though it’s a sausage, and some other shit. Sauces, ya know. It’s tasty as hell.”
“And then it gets complicated,” he continues. “Because anything can be sandwiched. So what I’m asking is, what isn’t sandwiched? You can be sandwiched between two worlds. Maybe someone makes a Pete sandwich and there are a couple people sandwiching Pete. It runs the gamut. If that’s what it relies on, then my simple question is…What isn’t a sandwich?"
I nod my head. I find myself unable to disagree with The Primo.
"This includes, but is not limited to my mug of mezcal," he finally explains. "That is sandwiched in many ways between the mug and the atmosphere. And you know what? you can find out a lot in a sandwich," he says while taking the last bite. "Like this one and all of its stuff. You get a microcosm of the world…sandwiched together.”
When you look at The Primo, you might wonder, “Who is this man?” And when you look at his three favorite sandwiches, you wonder “What are these?” Then you realize he’s right…there isn’t only one sandwich on his list of favorites. When you look harder, you not only see three sandwiches, but you see inside of The Primo. The Man. The Mystery. The Sandwich.