Food, Food Artisans, ZingLife

Ode to the Joy of Simplicity of the Genoa Salami Sandwich

A personal testimonial

by Josh Pollock, manager of the Bakeshop at Zingerman’s Bakehouse

woman-eating-salami-sandwichLong before I started working for Zingerman’s, the Bakeshop already had a special place in my culinary heart. For years I worked at the Borders headquarters, just across State Street and down Ellsworth Road from Zingerman’s southside campus, and next door to Zingerman’s Mail Order. Often colleagues and I would decamp to the Bakeshop to grab a quick, flavorful lunch which we could eat outdoors, at a reasonable price, without being surrounded by security fences.  (Old Borders joke, “With security like this, we need better secrets.”) It was during these visits that I became acquainted with the Genoa Salami sandwich. Not only did it become a steady part of my mid-day meal rotation, but it quickly established itself in a far more important role in my life.

My wife and I travel to the East Coast almost every year, leaving Ann Arbor in the early morning and making the middle of upstate New York by early evening. Between here and there the options for tasty, quick food are few and far between. Early on we started packing lunches rather than eating at the fast food chains that predominate Ontario’s QEW and the New York State Thru-Way. While I love to cook, preparing a meal on the morning before I go out of town for two weeks is not my idea of bliss. Enter my lunchtime stand-by.

In many ways there could not be a better sandwich for the road than the Bakeshop’s Genoa Salami. It is compact, making it easy to eat at a roadside rest area or, heaven and traffic forbid, while driving. For roughly the same cost as a Big Mac I can feast on well-cured salami and provolone cheese on a baguette hand crafted that morning and baked to crisp perfection, the whole thing seasoned with balsamic dressing. The crunch of the bread, the creaminess of the cheese, the garlicky, saltiness of the meat and the sweet tang of the balsamic are a revelation at room temperature, under the sun of a late August day. No drippy mess from too much mayo to cover too little flavor. No gummy bread to get stuck to the roof of your mouth. Just pure, simple flavors, melding together to bring pleasure and fill me up just enough to make it the next five hours on the road.

As we sit and enjoy our sandwiches watching our fellow travelers chomping on burgers made with frozen meat, topped with processed cheese and served on bread that won’t go stale in a week, my wife inevitably will remind me of the line from Aunty Mame, “Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” But not if you plan ahead and grab a Genoa Salami sandwich to go.