In France, on a road trip, lunch is usually jambon beurre (literally, "ham butter"), a crusty baguette spread with good sweet butter with some thinly sliced pink ham laid between the two halves. If you find a great example -- made with excellent bread, quality ham and good butter -- there's no better travel companion.
Americans sometimes have a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea. What, no tomato? No lettuce? No mustard? Non. Its beauty is in its simplicity. Admittedly, it's a long way away from the sub or hero sandwich, but I love it.
Lately, I've been making a pit stop at Cookbook in Echo Park for baguettes (some of the best in town). One Sunday I got there early (it opens at 8 a.m.), and the woman behind the counter was making up what looked very like a jambon beurre. "Yes, it is," she said. But made on the most slender ficelle (super-skinny baguette).
On Monday, I picked up a sandwich for lunch. The ficelle is wonderful, slathered with sweet butter and enclosing a single slice of prosciutto. Perfect if you're headed for a hike in Elysian Park.
It didn't get that far. I ate it in my car.
Cookbook, 1549 Echo Park Ave, Los Angeles; (213) 250-1900; www.cookbookla.com. Jambon beurre sandwich, $5.
-- S. Irene Virbila
Photo credit: S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles Times