Hamilton Needs a Signature Sandwich

The Philly Cheese Steak. Montreal Smoked Meat. The Pittsburgh Sandwich. The Hamilton ___________(Fill in the blank)?  I don’t know what kind of sandwich it should be or what it should be called, but the city of Hamilton, Ontario needs a signature sandwich for residence and tourists to enjoy!

My memories of every place I have ever visited and my desire to recommend that place or to possibly plan a return visit is largely based on the food I experienced while there. When I have visited places like Montreal, the 4 inch pile of old fashioned smoked meat on a rye, otherwise known as the Montreal Smoked, from Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Deli is a “Must-Have” on the Montreal to do list.  Like any visitor to the city known as Canada’s Cultural Capital; I wanted to immerse myself in all that is Montreal. Believe it or not; standing in the never ending line at Schwartz’s to wait for that smoked meat, getting yelled at by the cantankerous owner taking orders and then eating the sandwich over a crowded cafeteria style table, elbow to elbow with numerous strangers, is one of my favourite memories of Montreal. Unlike the more cliché “been there and bought the t-shirt” tourist experiences, a visitor biting into a Montreal Smoked Meat or any other city’s sandwich, is like getting off the tourist’s beaten path to begin to experience the yummy, messy, sticky, glorious mess of a culture that can be found between the two pieces of artisan bread (or Wonderbread…depending on which city you are visiting;)).  While it doesn’t seem like much; a city’s sandwich is a small, teasing taste of what that entire city has to has to offer.

We all know that the memories associated with the “bought the t-shirt” experience only re-emerge when said t-shirt is dug out of the back of the closet to wear to the gym; but chowing down on a scrumptious sandwich in a foreign city is an experience that can never be buried in the back of your mind like the t-shirt was buried in the back of the closet. Indulging in a city’s sandwich never occurs without an unforgettable story or without good company. In addition, The Sandwich Experience also triggers the two senses that are most closely linked to memory: taste and smell.  Thinking about Montreal Smoked Meat creates a mouth watering, stomach growling reaction that makes me want to pack my bags and jump in the car just so I can experience The Sandwich all over again. Sure, I could get a smoked meat in my own backyard, but Montreal created an experience for me that can never be duplicated.  I personally want visitors to Hamilton to have the same experience and memories of our city as I have of Montreal. Why not attempt to place Hamilton in the hearts of tourists through their stomachs?  I hear it works on men, so why not try it on the tourist industry as a whole!

A city’s sandwich also offers a sense of civic pride and unity. Whether residents of a city like/eat the sandwich or not; that sandwich represents them and tells a tasty story of who that community was and where they came from.  For instance, The Pittsburgh Style Sandwich was created out of necessity so the thousands of steel workers and truck drivers could eat their entire lunch in one hand so their other hand was free to work.  Even though Pittsburh has evolved from being known as just a Steel Town, the sandwich remains a feature on many restaurant menus. With the Signature Sandwich idea, the legacy and history of a community is not shown through buildings, war or industry (old or new) but through something that nourishes, that was artfully and organically created by the people, delights the senses and can be enjoyed socially by members of that community and its visitors.

That being said, I don’t know what I would want to represent “Hamilton on a Bun”.  I do know that Hamilton and the surrounding region have an abundance of fresh, eclectic, delicious and locally grown ingredients to build a great sandwich.  From the farmers market downtown and throughout the city, delicious local delis like Greensville Gourmet, Reardon’s or Beach Road, fresh, worldly cheese like Salerno

Hamilton Needs a Sandwich

Hamilton Needs a Sandwich!

& Sam’s, and being the largest producer of mustard in the entire world; I think Hamilton could make a pretty kick-ass sandwich! Come to think of it, Hamilton is the 3rd most ethnically diverse city in Canada, so we may need to have a couple of different sammy’s to really represent. Hamilton was once known as the ambitious city, but we lost that for a while.  However, with that buzz, spirit and excitement is back in the air; whatever Hamilton’s signature sandwich ends up being, I’m sure it will be a delectable and hearty handful….and mouthful!


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