By OWEN MORRIS
Sammy Loren visiting Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Recently, an aspiring filmmaker (and a former little-league baseball teammate) named Aaron Lindenbaum e-mailed me to say he was producing a documentary on sandwiches and whether I knew any places he should visit in Kansas City. It piqued my interest since I have a great love of sandwiches. I wrote Lindenbaum back and he, along with the film's director, Sammy Loren, met me for coffee -- sadly, not sandwiches.
Lindenbaum says the doc is called Sandwiched in America. "We want to look at the sandwich through the lens of American entrepreneurial innovation: Where has the sandwich gone, where is it going ... how sandwiches fulfilled a substance need back in the day and now how it's become marketed. And now, with cutting-edge sandwiches, restaurants are pushing the boundaries. We have visited restaurants in middle America starting with Pittsburgh and ending here in Kansas City."
Lindenbaum and Loren, friends for more than ten years, came up with the idea when they were living on opposites sides of the country. "We'd always be calling each other about different sandwiches we made," Loren says. "Aaron needed to drive back from New York to Kansas City and I had just got back from India and so we said, let's just go into the belly of the beast and do a film on sandwiches."
They've filmed at three places and visited many more.
"We were on this kick of working-class sandwiches and that lead us to Columbus [Ohio]. We had contacted this restaurant called the Surly Girl Saloon which turned out not to be not working class at all," Loren says. "Still, they had a really cool sandwich there called the 'spicy peanut butter and banana sandwich' and it came with a side of marshmallows and a quart of chocolate milk; like the kind you get in grade school." The Surly Girl Saloon was expecting a visit from the mayor to talk about how the restaurant was joining up with a local environmental effort. "So we wanted to get there and maybe convince the mayor to eat one of these sandwiches," Loren says. "By stroke of luck, we got there right in time and I went up to the mayor of Columbus and was like, 'Mayor Coleman, let us treat you to a sandwich.' And he did...He was really cool."
The sandwich, however, wasn't so great. "I didn't like it," Lindenbaum says. "It was too spicy. Gave me bad indigestion. One thing I did like though about the Surly Girl Saloon. it's almost like a cool feminist restaurant. It's owned by women and they differentiate their women-brewed beers from their normal-brewed beers ... taking it to the future and being really progressive."
The film is still in production. They want to get it finished before September and then try to find outlets that might buy it. "Ideally it would amazing to get on the Food Network," Lindenbaum says. "The truth is they probably won't show something like this because it's not just about food. We try to touch upon more that these sandwiches say something about American culture and how it's been moving through the ages. We'd like to dig a little deeper than "look at this weird sandwich."
You can learn more about Loren's former productions at mindfulmediacollective.blogspot.com