Mine has gotta be California Sandwiches, a tiny hole-in-the-wall wedged between rusting clapboard houses in the middle of downtown Toronto. Sure, the word “sandwiches” is spelled wrong on the sign, the floor is always greasy, and the bathrooms may or may not have hot water, soap, and paper towels, but the sandwiches are always delicious, let me tell you that.
Old ladies wearing frilly aprons and dark black glasses deep-fry pancake-sized breaded chicken breasts till they’re brown, crisping, and dripping with hot oil. Then they place them neatly on big doughy buns the size of cabbages, pour ladles of fresh steaming tomato sauce on top, toss some cheese and mushrooms on there, and wrap the sandwich in a mirrory foil before handing it to you with fifty thin paper napkins and a grunt.
Last time we ate there a droopy-eyed guy wearing a backwards cap slowly walked through the seating area dragging two black garbage bags. But Leslie and I barely noticed because we were chowing down like starved pigs over a fresh trough full of slop. Twenty minutes later, with our faces smeared in sauce, bellies bursting, and belts unbuckled, we left with tired eyes and satisfied smiles.
I love California Sandwiches but then again I love any restaurant with old ladies doing the cooking in the back. After all, old ladies have been here longer than anybody and chances are they’ve been cooking a lot longer too. Sure, I could probably order a pizza online faster, but I’m no match when it comes to caramelizing onions, frying fish, or building a sandwich with fresh bread, sliced cheese, and extra TLC.
So next time you bite into Granny’s date squares from the bakery, chomp meatballs from her pizza place, or slurp soup from her sandwich shop, just remember to say thanks for the homemade meal that taste’s like mom’s, thanks for the love, and thanks for the
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