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Thomas Keller's Brilliant Riff on the Already Perfect Sandwich (Sometimes)

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I took a trip back to my roots in the suburbs of Philadelphia this weekend for a high school friend’s party. Feeling nostalgic the next morning, I headed to a local diner in a vintage stainless steel dining car known for its fluffy pancakes, but more importantly, its 1950’s throwback décor complete with antique barbershop chairs at either end of the counter. I scanned the menu and quickly settled on a BLT, one of my favorites as a kid that my mom used to make when it was too hot to seriously cook. When done right—with juicy, drippy tomatoes held in place by crisp bacon and cool lettuce—it is the perfect summer sandwich. Feeling like something a bit more substantial and inspired by the chef Thomas Keller’s brilliant BLT Fried-Egg-and-Cheese Sandwich, a recipe published in our July issue, I ordered my BLT with an egg. Or I tried to, at least. Our waitress looked at me like I just ordered the slugs from the garden planters, so I switched it to a bacon-and-egg sandwich with lettuce and tomato—same sandwich put in a context that I thought she’d find more acceptable. She handed in my order, shrugging her shoulders and shaking her head, but I still hoped for a great sandwich. Instead, she brought me an overcooked egg on undressed toast with slightly tough bacon, cold, mealy tomatoes and no lettuce. It was no Thomas Keller BLT but at least my nostalgic urge was satisfied.

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