I have the extraordinary ability to watch the film “Spanglish,” James L. Brooks’ 2004 tale of a Mexican immigrant mother and daughter who must cope with assimilation into a new culture, set in a wealthy family vacation home in Malibu, inhabited by a neurotic wife, her laid-back, award-winning chef husband, and their precocious children, over and over and over again. I’ll watch it on an airplane. I’ll watch it on a bus. I’ll watch it all in Spanish. I’ll watch it without subtitles. It’s not just the completely natural interest in watching Paz Vega’s expression change that every single man, woman, and child on the planet has, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. No, it’s a little throwaway scene in the middle of the movie, that helps establish Adam Sandler’s character as a chef. He makes himself a late-night snack, designed in real life by Thomas Keller; a sandwich that receives the same adoration from the camera lens as the film’s actors.
I spent the morning running through the list of sandwiches that I had yet to try in Portland. After a run of some pretty rotten sandwich luck (that didn’t even make it to the site), I wanted something amazing. I didn’t want to go to Silly’s. I didn’t want to go to Punky’s. I didn’t want to risk disappointment anywhere. I wanted a perfect sandwich. I wanted Thomas Keller’s sandwich from Spanglish, a sandwich that manages to be several great sandwiches, all at once. It’s a grilled cheese. It’s a BLT. It’s a fried egg sandwich. And it’s wonderful.
Thomas Keller’s “Late Night BLT with Fried Egg and Cheese”
- 4 thick slices of bacon
- 2 slices of Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 thick slices of sourdough bread
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 4 tomato slices
- 2 leaves of butter lettuce
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- In a skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Set the Monterey Jack slices on 1 piece bread, and toast both slices of bread under the broiler until lightly browned and bubbly. Spread the slice of bread without cheese with mayonnaise, and then top with bacon, then lettuce, then tomato.
- Melt butter in a small nonstick pan. Add the egg and fry over moderate heat, turning once, until crisp around the edge, about 4 minutes; the yolk should still be runny. Slide the egg onto the lettuce; close the sandwich and eat immediately.