Here’s a story for you. It’s the best kind: a love story.
Once upon a time, I managed to secure a gluten-free boyfriend. This boyfriend—let’s call him D—missed sandwiches more than anything. To D, a sandwich was like a kiss or a hug (whatever that means).
One day, after months of cajoling, I made him a sandwich. D bolted it down and exclaimed, “Babesicle, this is delicious! You’re 300 gluten-free sandwiches away from an engagement ring!”
How likely was I to find another man who fulfilled all of my criteria? D was gluten-free, male, and even vegetarian. Wouldn’t it be prudent to hold onto him? Three hundred sandwiches…that’s not so much to pay for lifelong companionship.
I accepted the challenge.
Gluten-Free Sandwich #1
The Beginner’s Luck
I tied on my apron and started off strong, with fried tofu and home-pickled cucumbers on “rye” bread. D smacked his lips. I smiled. 299 sandwiches more and this domestic bliss could be mine forever.
Gluten-Free Sandwich #2
The Sophomore Slump
On half of an Everybody Eats baguette, this Vietnamese tofu bánh mì was a thing of beauty.
“But,” said D, polishing off the last morsel, “I’m getting a bit sick of tofu.”
Hearing this, I was disappointed, but also relieved. Pressing, freezing, thawing, re-pressing, marinating, searing, baking, and basting tofu to get that meaty taste and texture was thrilling and all, but doing it every day could get tiring. And I wouldn’t want to lose steam so early in the race.
Gluten-Free Sandwich #3
Low on inspiration, after a late day at work, I kept it simple: grilled cheese on Rudi’s multigrain. I threw in some spinach and a handful of potato chips in an attempt to add interest, but I knew the result was flat.
“It’s…okay,” D concurred.
I vowed to prioritize my work and social life less in the future.
Gluten-Free Sandwich #4
The Breakfast in Bed
Having calculated how long it would take me to meet my 300-sandwich goal and feeling my biological clock ticking, I decided to kick it into overdrive. If there’s one thing a man loves more than a sandwich for dinner, it’s a sandwich for dinner and a sandwich for brunch.
Although a single gluten-free bagel costs roughly the same amount as a whole pack of regular, and doesn’t even taste like a bagel without the barley malt, I took a stab at a breakfast sammie anyway.
“Not bad,” D said appreciatively. “Try an English muffin next time.”
Gluten-Free Sandwich #5
The Structurally Unsoundwich
This elaborate roasted-veggie sandwich looked great on the plate, but as gluten-free sandwiches are wont to do, it fell apart under the weight of its toppings.
“What kind of sandwich is this?” he grumbled.
“We don’t have to count this one,” I replied. After all, it wasn’t D’s fault celiac disease causes grumpiness.
Gluten-Free Sandwich #6 (or #5a)
The One You Eat with a Fork
Not to be defeated by a floppy piece of bread, I tried a compromise: the open-faced ‘wich. Someday, I reasoned, when we had a country house where we’d entertain guests, I’d be glad to have a few open-faced sandwich recipes in my back pocket (or should I say pocketbook—no lady wears clothing with pockets).
Gluten-Free Sandwich #7
The Poor Man’swich
I did some more calculations and realized how expensive it would be to make 300 sandwiches on store-bought gluten-free bread. And it would be nearly as costly to buy the seven different flours plus xanthan gum needed to bake bread myself—to say nothing of my somewhat valuable time. Going for home-economical, I made a tempeh lettuce wrap instead. Though I served it triumphantly, D was not convinced this counted, either.
Gluten-Free Sandwich #8
The Sandwich That Wasn’t
First thing after rolling out of bed at 1 pm, my faithful D made his usual polite request: “Make me a sandwich.”
But while getting out the cutting board and knife, I realized something: I was tired of sandwiches.
Reaching for the mustard, I realized something else: I don’t even like sandwiches.
And when my brand-new loaf of Udi’s turned out to contain an air hole nearly equal to the volume of the loaf, I realized one more thing: It was the twenty-first century. I didn’t have to make that sandwich.
I turned to D. “Would you marry me even if I didn’t make you 300 sandwiches?”
“What?” he returned, puzzled. “Are you talking? Shouldn’t you be slicing something?”
And that’s when I came to my final realization: no man is worth 300 sandwiches, gluten-free or otherwise, if you’re making them because he demands it. A relationship in which either party feels compelled to jump through hoops to win the other’s affections is as empty as the inside of a quality-non-assured loaf of bread. And life’s too short to spend it making someone else’s sandwiches.
“You know what, D?” I said—and by now I hope you know what that stands for—”Make your own damn sandwich.”
After all, I had more important things to do…like look for a new boyfriend.
The 300 Sandwiches blogger now claims that the whole thing was a joke—though her blog itself makes no such claim. What do you think? Is it funny? Sad? Infuriating? Should we be past caring about stuff like this? And which sandwich idea sounds best to you?
I must admit, she’s posted some stellar-looking sandwiches that I’d love to make GF, including these blondie ice cream sandwiches, featured in—from a feminist perspective—one of her most cringe-worthy posts, and—from a hungry perspective—one of my favorites.
Note, Oct. 4, 2013: A reader helpfully noted that none of the photos are of truly gluten-free sandwiches. I have strict policies for photo sourcing and mostly use Flickr’s Creative Commons to find shareable photos. As with anywhere, I found few GF options there. If you’re a food blogger who wants to grant me rights to post a photo of your fabulous GF bánh mì here, get at me.