Oberlin Blogs

"Snazzy" "Spicy" "Somnambulist" Sandwiches: Hot & Made to Order

June 14, 2009

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

Ah yes, the adjective sandwich. This is where my hard working Oberlin education has brought me: creative food making.

When I first got to Oberlin, I needed to get a job, both to help contribute to my education and so I'd have some spending money. Campus Dining Services (CDS) offers a number of jobs, and all you have to do is fill out an online application and pass a food safety exam. It's painlessly simple and it's a job!

Before the process was online, however, you had to visit the CDS office and look over a paper schedule and see what times worked with your class schedule. I signed up for ten hours and by the end of September I was working at the Decafe, a small campus grocery and cafe that specializes in made-to-order sandwiches, salads and smoothies.

I've been working at the Decafe ever since, my hours fluctuating every semester, but I still keep signing up for hours because I truly love working there. I love playing with food, I love making people happy with their food, and I love being creative. And here is where the adjective sandwiches come in.

This all started last year, when my dear friend Harris (not my roommate then) got tired with the standard Decafe offerings. The Decafe has a set menu of sandwich and salad combinations, as well as a listing of ingredients that one can create their own meal with. Harris wanted something new, something different, so he told me his mood and I would make him a sandwich. I wish I remembered the word, since it started such a defining part of my life at Oberlin. Upon consulting, Harris also doesn't remember the first sandwich but the second was a "sandwich to make my day less boring."

Since then, Harris comes to me with descriptors and I present him with sandwiches, and now it has moved on. A sandwich movement has begun among my friends. I've gotten orders for mellifluous sandwiches, energizing sandwiches, invincible sandwiches, blooming sandwiches, blustery sandwiches, feisty wraps, cacophonous sandwiches, reticulated wraps, cathartic sandwiches... I've also done smoothies and salads, but mostly, it's sandwiches and wraps.

Here's how it goes:

1. Think of a word, an adjective or mood, or combination of words.
2. Come to the Decafe and find me! I'm short and bouncy!
3. Tell me if you want a salad, sandwich, or wrap.
4. Tell me what you don't like/don't eat/allergies. Similarly, if you're craving something, tell me.
5. Stand back and I will let my creative juices flow (not on your sandwich, that would be gross).
6. If the word deems grilling, it'll go onto the panini press and I'll remind you where it is and what final touches it'll need once it's off, in the off chance that I'll be too busy to take it off.
7. Receive your sandwich and enjoy!
8. Repeat.

When my dad came to visit me at the beginning of May, I didn't drop my shift. I told him to get in line and think of a word, and that I would make him a delicious sandwich. He bumped elbows with my friends and co-workers from other jobs waiting in line for their descriptive sandwiches. I made him a hot, exuberant, and savory wrap. He claims it was the best part of his visit there.

I have gotten busier, and my time at the Decafe has been limited to one shift a week. And so, I advertise... on Twitter, Facebook, word of mouth. I love doing it; it pushes my creative limits and allows me to make people happy with the things they're eating, as well as building my vocabulary. Food should be an experience, and it might as well be a good one.

Why did I write about this now, during the summer, when we're all craving grilled Decafe sandwiches? Friday was my parents' 25th wedding anniversary, and after coming home from the beach, requested an adjective sandwich. They had been talking in the car about the sandwich skillz, and simultaneously decided they wanted "starry-eyed" sandwiches. This is what I made them:

My dad's wheat bread, one side with balsamic, the other with the olive oil from the sun-dried tomatoes, and then toasted. Once toasted, ricotta on the side with olive oil and chopped pecans on top of the ricotta, then chopped sun-dried tomatoes and Gouda on the other, then broiled in the toaster oven. Then it's topped with thinly sliced English cucumber on the side with ricotta, and avocado slices with fresh ground pepper and seasoned Hawaiian salt on the other side, and then baby lettuce from our garden.


If you plan on visiting Oberlin next year, look for the short girl bouncing around the sandwich line at the Decafe, and tell me how you're feeling. I hope it'll help define your visit.

Action shot! Making a variation on one of the most popular sandwiches, the Mozzarella Florentine. Taken by my dad Woody during his visit in May.

Similar Blog Entries