Imagine being George III. The world will know you as a nutter but that wasn’t predetermined. You won the Seven Year’s war for whomsoever’s sake. You ruled over the world as no one had before. Even Alexander. So what happened?
You’re a major player in the world’s biggest conflict – oceans and hemispheres wide – and then you get a big nothing from history’s nomenclature, in no small part because another George pressed his point. Nothing. You are at best third fiddle. Meanwhile, some clown that can’t count cards who supposedly is bound to you by some feudal nonsense gets ensconced in the OED version of proper language. No one saw that coming.
While George III was off winning wars and then not winning wars he famously lost his mind. The 4th Earl of Sandwich – seriously - somehow tied his name to a pre-existing fabrication and wrapped it round the world.
The story is that the Earl couldn’t be bothered to leave the gambling table so he asked that his food be pressed between two pieces of bread. That’s how we get the idea of a sandwich. At least, that’s the idea. It’s a ridiculousness that presupposes that no one before had the gumption to put bread on the bottom and then the top, but whatever. So George, scion of all that is great and British is known as The Mad King and his feudal lesser is a category on every menu in the English speaking world. Every moment counts, I guess.
What if it was a different guy?
Would we even think about it if the Earl had been from somewhere else?
I’ll have an Essex with turkey and cheese, hold the mustard? We’ll just grab a bunch of Pembrokes and have a group meeting?
I giggle at stupid things, but it just happened to be Sandwich. It’s so weird.
My son turns fifteen today. He’ll be getting his learners permit and I’ll replace your mailboxes as needed, but let’s talk about the meal that nursed him into the world.
My wife was patient and amenable with and to her doctor’s orders. When she gave birth, and this was after eight months (it’s nine to ten months for gestation but the first month is still the whisky fueled joy that got you into the situation and you had no idea and will beat yourself senseless over the damage you may have caused the we lad that first incunabular month) she was desperate for properly cooked food. She’d been an on an overcooked retinue for so long. Not even medium rare for the entire gestation.
The boy was born at 11:22 in the evening and at 11:00 am the next morning I was at Bottega Café in Birmingham ordering the rarest salad Nicoise that this Earth has ever encountered.
There was resistance. Some of the chefs were uneasy with a lightly seared tuna steak going out as uncooked as I wished. In their minds I was going to run innumerable errands and let the fish fester in the car. I assured them, bolstered by the testimony of a variety of waiters known to me, that I was on a one shot trip and the woman who had performed the most disturbing act I was ever witness to was due her due and that was something rare and delicious. They were mollified and the child, mother as well, survived – thrived even.
At it’s most simple a Nicoise salad, spell check be damned, is based around tuna, lightly seared. Lettuce, tomato, a bit of boiled egg, some blanched green beans, olives, boiled new potatoes, and shaved carrots in a vinaigrette make up the base.
You can play around and get cheeky with green olives instead of black like a scamp, but it’s pretty straight forward.
I’ve been messing around with smoked trout in place of tuna. It’s a revelation.
My go to with smoked trout is a salad. It’s not the Nicoise. I like a spring mix, frisee heavy if you can find it and if you can let me know where because there seems to be a scarcity. Walnuts, chevre, sliced green apple, and some sliced red onion. It’s pretty damn good, but it’s not football food.
For a football party, smoked trout needs to be served forth in sandwich form.
Go to the place in your town that makes the really good baguette. Publix makes a really good one but you know that there is that place in town that’s just that much better. Don’t make it yourself. I tried baking a baguette and it ended with my bread stealing dog leaving it uneaten on the floor. Baguettes are hard to get right. Again, Publix is good, but spend the extra buck and get the chewy-needs-butter-I-need-to-buy-two-or-I’ll-eat-this-before-I-get-home bread. Every town has a bakery that puts out loaves like this. If you aren’t sure where the hot spot is in your town, look for nose rings. Not sure why, but good bakers always have nose rings.
Slice the bread like you would for sandwiches and toast it lightly.
Break the smoked trout apart and layer it on the bread. Top with sliced olives, Roma tomato, lettuce, hard boiled egg slices, onion, and blanched green beans (I forgot the green beans for the photo – my bad). Dress with a garlic heavy red wine vinaigrette. You now have a pseudo Nicoise sandwich.
I think spicy chips work best here. Lay’s Jalapeno Kettle or whatever.
Rose is the best call if you’re asking. A lighter wine in the Provencal style suits the offering, but this is a football game. Beer. Something light and American will do. A Miller or Budweiser gets a lot of disdain in this age of craft brewery, but they have a place and that is here. Enjoy rather than judge because trout works well with American lager.
I like Dan Mullen for his Cousin Eddie bit. No animosity from me towards Florida on the by and by, but I suspect they are evil and have probably raped a nun, so to heck with them.
In sum: You need a decent to great baguette, a hard boiled egg or two, a some chopped black olives, lettuce, Roma tomatoes, green beans, smoked trout, a garlic heavy red wine vinaigrette, and maybe some red onion if you’re nasty.
You can make this by the foot if needed for a crowd.
An Aside: Roger Patrick Meyers has Tweeted that his Tailgate spot is no more. I’ve had the pleasure of his hospitality three times. He was a gracious and wonderful host. I remember my first time at his spot when he told me to get a drink. I asked his bartenders for a whisky on the rocks. I was handed a Solo Cup filled to the brim with Maker’s Mark and ice. It was a great game. Thanks from me and so many others. I write about tailgates. He did tailgates in fact.
Roll Tide, no injuries, and let’s make Mullen’s USC negotiations that little bit harder.