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Must a Sandwich Be Savory for It to be Considered Lunch?

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Critic Robert Sietsema recommends a sweet sandwich from a West Village bakery

A wide storefront of brick with a window displaying pastries and people milling around outside...
Step inside for a Merveilleux or two.

The frontiers of sandwichdom are prone to fuzziness, and even to outright incursions. Part of me died when McDonald’s started calling its hamburger a “sandwich.” The hamburger and cheeseburger are things unto themselves, with the bun being an extraneous addition to a German-derived dish that was once just the patty. Argue with me, if you will.

And then there’s the ice cream sandwich. Is it really a sandwich with its layer of ice cream with two cookies on either side? Could we make a rule that a sandwich must be savory and nourishing in a non-dessert sort of way? Maybe I’m a mad dog baying at the moon, but I want to be able to eat any sandwich for lunch and not feel pangs of guilt. On the opposite side of the question, isn’t a PB&J mainly a sweet sandwich masquerading as savory with its sweet peanut butter and even sweeter grape jelly? Why do you think kids like it so much?

A woman in a white uniform with brown apron and cap stands before a window full of pastries...
A limited range of pastries is displayed.
A small brioche halved and smeared with chocolate frosting is held in an upturned palm...
The chocolate ganache brioche is superior to the Nutella.

Well, I recently stumbled on one more sweet sandwich that I was willing to call a sandwich. The Nutella brioche ($3.20) is found at West Village bakery Aux Merveilleux de Fred. The namesake merveilleux are simply balls of flavored whipped cream coated with nuts, meringue, or other crunchy coatings. But the shop also dabbles in croissants and brioches, and the latter may be split and spread with Nutella. It sure looks like a sandwich, and a case (though not a very good one) can be made for Nutella being a cognate of peanut butter.

I was content to praise the Nutella brioche with faint damnation, until I stumbled on a similar product alternately available at the same bakery — the ganache brioche ($3.35). This little number comes smeared what amounts to chocolate frosting. Really, it’s not savory one tiny bit. Yet, I’m willing to call it a sandwich, but only because it’s so damn good. Eat a pair for lunch and savory be damned. 37 Eighth Ave, between Jane and Horatio streets, West Village

Aux Merveilleux de Fred

37 8th Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10014 (917) 475-1992 Visit Website

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