There are so many cookbooks on every specific subject—from authentic Mexican to TV show-inspired and cannabis. But it’s the books that capture the authoring chef’s psyche and essence that actually get re-read on the regular (the others stay on the coffee table, looking pretty). Tyler Kord, chef and owner of the No 7 restaurant group which includes sandwich shop No 7 Subs, is also a broccoli evangelist whose cynical humor is entirely endearing. All of the rants and digs at food culture and the industry have a purpose within Kord’s first hardcover, “A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches.” That purpose is simple: make a tasty sandwich and put it in your mouth.
We can’t decide what’s more hilarious, Kord’s candid narration as you cook (“So you’re going to smoke some ketchup now. It will not get you high, but it will make everything you put it on taste like a really awesome hot dog”) or the Editor’s Notes by fellow food writer Francis Lam (“The Pho Mayo is literally amazing. Tyler, imagine how many copies of this book we could have sold if it was just called ‘Mayo That Tastes like Pho, and Some Other Recipes”). It makes it a cookbook we would actually read outside of the kitchen; on our subway commute or at the beach.
In between Kord’s contemplations on the price of sandwiches, postcolonial literature, the comments sections on articles, and making sure your squid is not the product of slave labor, there’s wonderful artwork from Kord’s “nonbiological uncle” (aka a close friend of his father’s) William Wegman. The conceptual artist actually does other work beyond photographing his beloved, sometimes costumed, Weimaraners; and here, his illustrations take pieces from vintage cookbooks and extend them.
“I think there is something about bread hitting your tongue, followed by increasingly salty, fatty and tart things that makes each bite of a sandwich into an exciting adventure,” Kord tells CH on his fascination for the food format. “I think it’s the same reason that tacos, falafel, steamed buns, cheeseburgers, and all of their variations from all over the world are so fun. How else could you describe a relationship between a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and smoked salmon with capers, onions, and cream cheese on an everything bagel?” You won’t find anything that basic within these pages—these are adventurous sandwich recipes, but Kord successfully convinces you why the combination of broccoli, briny lychee and pine nuts makes sense. The useful “Sandwich Construction: Theory & A Chart” at the end helps you make magic from whatever’s in your fridge, too.
Images by Nara Shin