Ham & Cheese Banquette

Well, It's been a hot minute since I posted here. I suppose I should get back to it. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about my childhood, and have been reminiscing about a particular sandwich I used to eat when I live in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

For anyone that doesn't know me, I am a foodie. Not the kind of foodie that knows the big words, best restaurants, and cuisines from around the world. I 'm not that versed. But I do know I will try any food that I am served. Many of my memories are associated with a food, Thus, I want to share with you one of my favorite sandwiches.

I remember when we used to pile into the car, and drive to a resort type pool and beach area somewhere out side of the city limits of Abidjan, West Africa . It was such a fresh drive, the windows open and hot sticky air would blow over us. These were times I don't even remember arguing with my brother and sister in the car. Once we arrived there, I don't remember how everything was organized, but I do remember there was a huge pool that had a waterfall and possibly a slide, kind of like the ones at fancy hotels. There was also a beach we could access.

Now, let me get to the best part. Being the high energy, 11 or 12 year old kid I was, after a few hours of playing in the pool, or walking down to the beach, I would get hungry. I can't remember if I had to talk my parents into letting me get a ham and cheese sandwich or not. But I know I enjoyed this culinary delight several times during the two years we lived in Abidjan. I want to say that we usually brought our own food. You know, the PB&J sandwich that got squished under the bottle of water? And to add insult to injury, the ice was on top, melting, into a soggy mess, water-logged, squishy, dripping mess.

Ok, back to the good stuff. There were a few occasions that I got the ham and cheese sandwich. Mind you, not your regular ham and cheese, but a culinary feast that awakened the foodie in me. I didn't even know that food could or would have such an impact o my life, but here I am some 37 years later remembering a sandwich. Have I told you this is no ordinary sandwich? First the baguette was cut in half to make two long pieces. The the soft buttery insides was removed. But note, not too much of the soft bead, but just enough so when I took a bite I could first experience the crunch of the firm bread breaking off followed by my teeth sinking into a layer of the soft bread that melts in my mouth. So, the inside of this baguette was coated with a light mayonnaise and mustard mixture with herbs. I remember the smooth texture of the sauce, that was followed by a sharp tang of seeded mustard and the sweet taste of basil. Then, layer by layer the sharp boldness of a perfectly aged Swiss cheese was layered with a sweet smokiness of an excellently cured ham in such a manner that layer upon layer would be nestled in the perfect baguette, as no little morsel would fall out the sides or ends. And trust me when I say there were no crumbs that fell and went to waste either as I devoured my culinary treat. I can still smell the warm bread, bold flavors and soft aroma as I would sink my teeth into my ham and cheese baguette. The crunch of the bread, followed by each layer of flavor, and the best part is it was all encased in the baguette and nothing would squish out. Oh, perfection.

I miss my ham and cheese baguette.