Ode to the BLT – Beautiful Luscious Tasty

The BLT. Bacon Lettuce and Tomato with mayo on toast. Simple, but complex. Five ordinary ingredients that come together to create something extraordinary. A sandwich of pure genius.

There are few foods which have so much going on, with so few ingredients. The BLT is a study in contrasting flavors, textures and temperature. A culinary juxtaposition if you will. What’s more, each of the five ingredients of the classic BLT have multiple components of texture and flavor which together create a symphony of deliciousness. A sandwich so perfect it’s awe inspiring.

Allow me to elucidate:

The bacon; salty, smokey, crunchy and (if you don’t overcook it as you shouldn’t) chewy and fatty too.

The lettuce; cool and crisp.

The tomato; juicy and sweet.

The mayo; creamy, acidic, and salty.

The toasted bread; crunchy, warm, and comforting.

Though there is overlap, and even with my limited ability to describe each of it’s components you can see how many different flavors and textures a BLT has.

The sandwich’s genius lies in it’s simplicity, because that simplicity belies the myriad of flavors and textures it contains. Almost all of the various ‘tastes’ are represented. Savory, salty, sweet, and sour (acid) and according to Wikipedia, tomatoes have umami, so that’s represented too. Then there’s the contrasting textures of the crisp lettuce, crunchy/chewy bacon and toast, plus the creamy mayo and the juicy tomato. If that weren’t enough, the sandwich has contrasting temperatures, warm bacon and toast, cool lettuce and tomato. Furthermore, I need to mention the bright colors. I think it’s just beautiful to look at.

The BLT is amazing. And it’s just so gosh darn tasty. It is definitely one of my favorite sandwiches, second only to a good burger.

There have been many attempts to improve on it. There’s the BLAT. Which of course adds avocado. And the BELT, the E for egg. I’ve seen recipes that use herbed mayo, or that have you make the sandwich on a baguette, or recipes that sub arugula for the lettuce. You can also stir some hot sauce into the mayo, to add in the missing ‘S’ taste—spicy.

My advice; don’t mess with perfection. The classic BLT, made with lettuce, tomato, bacon, and mayo, on plain, thinly sliced white toast needs no embellishment. And any attempt to improve it is gilding the lily. Additional items are superfluous. Resist the temptation to make the sandwich better. It is perfection is it’s classic form. Gastronomic tinkerers need not apply.

I salute you Mr. BLT inventor! Thank you for bringing the pleasure of a simple, yet complex treat into our lives. We all owe you a debt of gratitude. I raise my sandwich to you in celebration. Here’s to the BLT!


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