You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

The ‘Machine’, however we define Big Food, Big Agra etc. controls our tastes by draining our foods of flavor, nutrients, and value. Making the simple complicated for no reason and no benefit.

This is the time honored French sandwich, Jambon Beurre. Ham, butter. That’s it.

To many Americans, this is a joke, something for foreigners. Where’s the Lettuce tomato mustard mayo and salad dressing, cheese, etc.?

Well, even without the insipidness of today’s tomatoes, even without the obvious watering down and gussying up these ingredients bring, good ham and good butter simply need no help. And by the way, flavor has no calories.

Our food culture has so corrupted our tastes that today, not in Iowa or Alaska, but five minutes walk from Chez Panisse in Berkeley is a French shop, run by a real French chef, which sells a Rillettes sandwich with lettuce and tomato. This is like going to Japan and ordering Rice-a-Roni. Asked why he sold his sandwich this way he replied, “I want to stay in business”. Meaning that people order Rillettes because it’s French and cool, and then ruin it.

And then we export these tastes around the world. A tourist from America sends back this picture from Paris proclaiming this a quintessential French sandwich, never realizing that the thing is the product of our tastes corrupted by our marketers, etc. and the only thing French about it is the napkin.

What makes this more than a pet peeve or a minor annoyance is what brings this about to begin with. The addition of lettuce and tomato, basically, colored water, is assumed on nearly every sandwich we eat. It so expected that we feel we’re being shortchanges without it. But if you actually taste the food you’d realize that lettuce with ham reduces the flavor, and with something subtle like Rillettes, it’s a real waste.

So simplify, and enjoy. There’s no reason to have condiments on everything, and if the flavor is lacking, look to the ingredients that are there and find better ones. But remember that a lifetime of conditioning can’t be overcome in a day. Train yourself to taste every ingredient and never add anything which draws flavor away.


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