It is my intention to celebrate the sandwich this year by finding as many tasty examples as possible, with a special emphasis on fringe styles, while also presenting sandwiches that were considered more normal 30 years ago, but now seem quaint. I will do this on a weekly bases, and periodically present round-ups of the ones I consider best.
I’m a sucker for any kind of sandwich with fries in it. I first encountered one in Paris’s Saint Germain neighborhood, where I copped a gyro from a Greek vendor that had raw onions, tzatziki, and luscious greasy fries inside, and quickly discovered that Parisians frequently do their pita sandwiches that way. Here, it’s not so common, though you can find the phenomenon here and there in Astoria, and in a pinch, you can ask a cafe to do it for you. You don’t really need a lot of fries to make it work.
So I was excited when I saw a sandwich called a mitraillette on the bill of fare at Benelux, a new bistro in Bushwick in the shadow of the Boar’s Head factory, which is an auspicious sign. The word “mitraillette” means “submachine gun” in English, and the sandwich is found in Belgium. In France, a similar sandwich is apparently called an Americain, which may be giving us more credit than we deserve.
Said to be popular with students, it involves meat on a demi-baguette — be it sausages, roast lamb or pork, or a burger or two — dressed with a variety of sauces and topped with crudité and french fries. Is the idea that the sandwich machine guns your stomach? Or did it have some World War II origins? Or maybe allude to American gangsters?
Anyway, the version of the mitraillette at Benelux features a cut baguette, pickled carrots, roast pork, and good fries (though not twice-cooked ones), with mornay sauce on the side. I found the sandwich rich and tasty, but thought it overpriced at $16. Dump the sauce over the whole thing if you want a real mess. Squish, squish goes the sandwich in your mouth. 25 Bogart St., at Varet Street, Bushwick