Jambon Beurre Sandwich and Paris
The summer of my senior year in high school, (2002), I traveled with my advanced Spanish class to Spain and France. As an almost-18 year old I felt on top of the world. Spain, mainly Madrid, was a city so vibrant and full of life. Music filled the streets and I tasted some of the best tapas in the world! It was also the first time we tried sangria. The weather was hot, the marzipan was sweet, and I was falling in love with a new culture. Then we traveled to France. Although it’s Spain’s next door neighbor, it couldn’t be more different.
We crossed the Pyrenees and the weather became cooler and more mild. The Loire Valley was lush and rich. The chateaus were elegant and Gothic looking. I saw a cloth from Jesus’ birth in one of the hundreds of cathedrals we visited. Yet still… I wanted to experience French culture in a more authentic way. (Keep in mind, I don’t speak a lick of French). So we moved on and headed into Paris. Ahhh Paris…. what a city! I was shocked at how large Paris is. Everyone wanted to see the Eiffel Tower, (of course), but then we were allowed to roam around the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in small groups.
The girls I was paired up with were completely into fashion. Fendi. Versace. Chanel. You name it, and they wanted to go into their store. Me? I wanted to walk along the Seine and stop in a patisserie, but I wasn’t allowed to wander off alone. So I followed along and looked at clothes for hours. Finally we stopped for lunch at an outdoor cafe. I was starving! I remember seeing a menu item that looked like it was pizza. “Uh… Je suis… “, I began, and pointed to the item. The waitress looked at me funny, and leaned over to see the menu. She nodded and wrote down the item. I sat back happy, envisioning the pizza that would soon be before me. No sooner did our food arrive, when all of a sudden the waitress sat a plate down in front of me that was clearly not pizza! Large tomato slices were covered in anchovies and were garnished with herbs, spices, and a bit of olive oil. I balked. “No, no!” I said and shook my head. The waitress looked highly annoyed. (Who could blame her?). And took the food back. I paid my bill and left with an empty stomach. At that moment I felt miserable and wondered when I would be able to eat. That’s when I came across a small food vendor on the street selling sandwiches. After so much walking I felt famished. It was there at this stand that I spent 39 Francs, (this was right before the euro was introduced), and bought myself a sandwich. My 18 year old self didn’t have an appreciation for food like I do now. But let me tell you, that sandwich left quite the impression upon me.
I didn’t know it then, but French bread is steamed. And the French take their bread very seriously so the loaf was piping hot, and fresh. The outside was crunchy while the inside was light, and airy. The bread was spread with locally made butter and a smear of dijon mustard, and smoked cheese and a bit of ham completed the rest. That’s it. Less was truly more because it’s one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. This past weekend as I sat down to write up my grocery list I paused to think about what I wanted to cook. For some reason, that sandwich floated into my mind. I had to recreate it.
So here is the sandwich that swept my heart away. I hope you love it as much as I do. Have a wonderful day everyone and keep on cooking! ❤
Jambon Beurre Sandwich
Courtesy of: Lisa aka The Noob Chef
Yields: 3 large sandwiches, or 6 smaller ones
- 1 loaf french bread, warmed
- 4 tbsp. butter, preferably European butter
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 8 slices smoked Gruyere cheese
- 8 slices good-quality ham
- Warm the loaf of bread in the oven at 220 degrees (F) for about 5-10 minutes, or just until warmed through. Then let it cool slightly and cut in half lengthwise.
- Spread butter on both sides of the bread, then smear the Dijon mustard along the middle of both halves.
- Add the ham and cheese. Close the sandwich and pop back into the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese just starts to warm and melt slightly, but not runny.
- Divide into 3 or 6 pieces, serve warm, and enjoy! 🙂
Note: If you don’t care for Gruyere, or if it is too pricey, you can easily substitute it for another smoked cheese like Provolone.