I love sandwiches — both making and eating them. So when I heard that there was a famous man in Syracuse, Sicily, who makes just a few dozen sandwiches a day and has a constant line out the door, my interest peaked.
Turns out he doesn’t just make sandwiches but he puts on a bit of show as well — a combination of energetic actions, Sicilian hospitality, humor and careful attention to details.
At one point he quickly chopped a tomato, set it aside, then grabbed a garlic clove in its skin and smashed it into his cutting board with the flat edge of his large chef’s knife. He grabbed the smashed garlic, rubbed it all over the cutting board, and then, to my surprise, he tossed the garlic to the side, grabbed the freshly cut tomatoes and rubbed them into the cutting board to infuse them with the essence and oils of the garlic. He rolled the tomatoes into thinly cut cheese and placed three of them onto the bread roll — one of many things that made its way into each stacked sandwich.
It reminded me of Jiro and the shokunin kushitsu (the spirit of the craftsman) that we spoke about a few weeks ago. I enjoyed his energy so much, I didn’t realize I was watching him from our slowly-moving place in line for over an hour before it was our turn.
When Jess and I got to the front of the line, he greeted us with some baked ricotta from the oven, drizzled in olive oil and dusted with oregano.
He was full of energy. As he spoke to us in Italian, Jess translated for me.
“Do you have any allergies or are you vegetarian?”
We shook our heads no.
“Beyond that, obviously I am not going to ask you what you want.”
Jess and I: “OK.”
“Because any sandwiches you liked in the past are in the past, and any specific kinds of meats or cheeses you already like or don’t like are also in the past. And what I am about to make you is a sandwich of the future.“
Ha! I thought to myself. A sandwich of the future. The thought of it made me smile.
The idea that I should experience this sandwich without my preconceived notions of past food preferences was exciting and a little scary.
Had it not been for the passion and care he put into each sandwich, I might not have trusted him — but his enthusiasm and confidence radiated from his outdoor kitchen stand.
It made me wonder: what other new experiences — what “sandwiches of the future” — am I missing out on because of strongly held beliefs that may not serve me?
The sandwich, by the way, was delicious.
P.S. Watching the sandwich maker, I was struck by how alive he seemed while practicing his craft. What makes you come alive? Through our Passion Guide and Resources, we ask questions that can help you figure it out!
P.P.S. Here is a photo of the master in action...
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