During our last installment of the Rugby Sandwich Bracket, a French croque monsieur soundly defeated a New Zealand cheese and onion sandwich. What this meant, of course, was that it would progress on to the next round of the bracket to challenge… the South African Gatsby!
The following weekend we reconvened to watch more rugby, and, perhaps more importantly, eat sandwiches. As with last time, the croque began with Columbia City Bread’s deliciously sweet and tender brioche. My mouth is watering just looking at these pictures.
The crusts get cut off… but this time, tragedy strikes. A giant hole inside one of the loaves!
We must drown our sorrows with a quick intermission. Cheese and crackers heal all wounds.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming! After crying real tears and eating strong cheese, the crustless brioche has been cut into rectangles, toasted, and dolloped with mustard. Or, as the French would say, la moutarde. (Not to be confused with le moulard. That’s a duck, not a condiment.)
Then comes ham and Gruyere, which I may or may not have sprinkled into my mouth when no one was looking.
The cheese gets topped with a creamy-cheesy sauce known as béchamel. I know I said it before, but I’ll say it again: the French sandwich game is strong. If it was an emoji, it would be the flexing bicep. Yeah, you know the one.
Normally these would be close-faced sandwiches, but given the earlier brioche tragedy they had to be open-faced instead. They go underneath the broiler and come out beautifully browned and melty.
Tomatoes get sliced and lettuce chopped.
Once done, the beef gets spooned into a dish and set aside.
A crusty baguette from a local Vietnamese bakery is the perfect bread for this Gatsby situation. It gets split down the middle, but not totally cut in half.
The curried beef gets tucked into the baguette…
…tomatoes layered in…
…and shredded lettuce sprinkled atop all of that business.
Disregard the healthfulness implied by the tomatoes and lettuce and make way for the pièce de résistance: here come the
Yes, in order to contend with France, South Africa has upped the ante by topping a perfectly normal sandwich with fried potatoes. You know, like you do.
Oh, and then there’s chicken salt. It’s, well, chicken-flavored salt, and makes everything (but especially
fries chips) delicious. Is this the secret ingredient that will lead to a South African win?
Behold: the Gatsby in its full glory.
Everyone moved in for their sandwiches, and the two contenders squared off on one plate.
We bit into our sandwiches and everyone fell silent, contemplating who the victor should be. The rich, cheesy, creamy French entrant? Or the South African contender, where crusty baguette gives way to spicy, tender beef, tangy tomatoes, and salty-savory fries?
My alignments are clear and undisputed: as on the previous weekend, I voted for the croque. However, when the votes were tallied, South Africa just barely eked out a victory. It was the spicy curry and the chicken salt which were France’s ultimate undoing. A lesson to us all: no sandwich should rest on its laurels (or its ham, brioche, and béchamel).
While my favored sandwich sadly lost, it’s hard to say that any of us were truly losers: after all, we got to eat delicious sandwiches, and there was more yet to come. Later that afternoon, Scotland would be squaring off versus Argentina in yet another sandwich battle to the death!