United We Sandwich
This July, we're pledging allegiance to the food that makes this country great—specifically, the exciting things happening in our nation's culinary scene right now. Join us as we explore America!
Step one: Wake up. Step two: Eat sandwich.
That's how a morning looks for many Americans, with a possible intermediate step of getting out of bed. But though the fillings don't vary wildly (bacon, egg, cheese or some combination thereof), a breakfast sandwich in Texas is a different story than one in New York. Here are some of America's typical breakfast sandwiches and their places of origin.
New York is full of new-age breakfast sandwiches, but a fresh, chewy bagel will never go out of style. Bagels were brought to New York by Polish immigrants in the late 1800s and quickly found a home in Manhattan's Lower East Side, where they eventually teamed up with toppings like cream cheese and smoked fish. Its only imperfection is that the characteristic center hole robs you of one more bite—but that hole was actually once used for transporting the bagels on a wooden dowel. When New Haven's Lender's Bagels figured out how to freeze and mass-distribute the goods, bagels became common practice across the country.
Cross the bridge to New Jersey, and you'll find the aptly named Jersey Breakfast, a sandwich made with pork roll, egg and cheese. Like its bacon, egg and cheese brethren, a pork roll, egg and cheese is a sandwich breed best purchased at the type of place featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Jersey residents are divided on the name (it's pork roll in the South and Taylor Ham in the North), but they stand together on their devotion to the bologna-esque cured meat: Planning is already underway for Trenton's 2016 Pork Roll Festival.
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You've heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In accordance with that credo, author and taco aficionado Mando Rayo considers breakfast tacos to be "the most important taco of the day." Austin puts the "Tex" in Tex-Mex when it comes to this dish, which can be filled with anything from shredded beef to cactus pads—but usually has a base of huevos and potatoes.
Similar in theme is the breakfast burrito, which gained popularity in the 1970s. Though its origin story is murky, aficionados point to Tia Sophia's in Santa Fe, New Mexico, dubbing it not only the "best place for breakfast/brunch" but also the purveyor of the city's best breakfast burrito. True, when it comes to sandwich vernacular, a taco is more of an open-faced option and a burrito akin to a wrap, but in the Southwest, it's one in the same.
Whether piled high with country ham or a floating island in a pond of gravy, a biscuit is the breakfast sandwich vehicle of choice in the South. North Carolina and Virginia residents know where to go to satisfy their cravings in an instant: local chain Biscuitville, with offerings like the Ultimate Country Ham biscuit, which takes your basic bacon, egg and cheese and ups the ante with a layer of country ham.
Though the West Coast is limited in scope when it comes to unique breakfast sandwiches, staple sandos can be found there by way of westward expansion. Egg lovers in Los Angeles can get their fill at Eggslut, and San Francisco has iconic breads upon which to pile bacon and fancy jams. No matter which state you're in, you can always wake up in a breakfast sandwich state of mind.
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