05 July 2008

On Ergonomic Sandwiches

During a brief idle moment in work earlier today, feeling a need for a moment's respite from the Sisyphean task of sorting out the storeroom, I popped into the kitchen where one of the girls was assembling a battery of triangular sandwiches for the regulars.

Remembering The Mezzanine, I told of her Nicholson Baker's theory of triangular sandwiches, as expressed by his narrator:
'Now, why was diagonal cutting better than cutting straight across? Because the corner of a triangularly cut slice gave you an ideal first bite. In the case of a rectangular toast, you had to angle the shape into your mouth, as you angle a big dresser through a hall doorway: you had to catch one corner of your mouth with one corner of the toast and then carefully turn the toast, drawing the mouth open with it so that its other edge could clear; only then did you chomp down. Also, with a diagonal slice, most of the tapered bite was situated right up near the front of your mouth, where you wanted it to be as you began to chew; with the rectangular slice, a burdensome fraction was riding out of control high on the dome of the tongue. One subway stop before mine, I concluded that there had been a logic behind the progress away from the parallel and toward the diagonal cut, and that the convention was not, as it might first have appeared, merely an affectation of short-order cooks.'
- Nicholson Baker, The Mezzanine, 53.
Eyes widened with delight as I burbled away, and as I finished our sandwich-maker burst out, 'That's so true! I'm always going to cut sandwiches that way now! I always thought people were just being fancy doing that! Wow!'

I'm rather inclined to do the same.

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