It seems like the kind of food you could find anywhere in the United States, and you would be wrong. There is no place other than Long Island to get the traditional, old-school delicacy known to the locals simply as an Egg Sandwich.
Almost every deli worth its salt on Long Island has its own version of the egg sandwich, with countless variations. As the years have passed, new fancier ingredients have been added, and other alterations to accommodate a more healthy lifestyle. But we aren’t about health here; we are about memories. If you live away from the island, prepare to drool a little.
A traditional Long Island Egg Sandwich starts with a fresh-sliced Kaiser roll, that is commonly buttered. Two eggs, fried or scrambled are placed within. Some like them runny, others less so. A pile of crispy bacon or sausage, cooked alongside the eggs, is piled high atop. American, Cheddar or Swiss are all acceptable cheeses to melt over the mountain of meaty protein. Ketchup is a common condiment; mayo, less so, but found in some places. Salt and Pepper to finish it off.
When I was a kid, one of these and a bottle of Tropicana orange juice was just about my favorite breakfast. And, while I don’t know the prices now, I don’t recall every paying more than a buck or two back in the day for this filling meal of a sandwich.
So, why can’t you just whip one of these up in other parts of the country? I believe it is all about the kaiser roll. You just can’t find the same fresh and chewy rolls in other parts of the country. Still, if you are willing to compromise on the kaiser, this might help you satiate your craving.
I suspect it might also have something to do with the sandwich being cooked on a grill where thousands, if not millions have cooked before, imparting a special flavor impossible to duplicate in a non-stick skillet. There must be some explanation for that magical flavor beyond the bread.
It may seem a simple sandwich, but it is such a beloved staple on Long Island, an ingrained part of the culture passed from generation to generation. Outsiders simply don’t get it, and it’s their loss.
If you grew up eating traditional egg sandwiches on Long Island, I’d love to hear your recollections, and descriptions, in our comments section below. Meanwhile, if anyone would like to send me one in San Diego … 🙂