By Alia Al-Chalabi

To me, sandwiches are the quintessential quarantine food. You may wonder what a perfect sandwich is considering there are endless varieties, but trust me: there are rules. No matter what kind of cold cuts or leftovers you stuff into that glorious piece of bread, you still have to follow some guidelines. Believe me on that one — it will make you quarantine better. 

First, let’s talk about butter. Butter cannot be skipped out on. I hate to be that person, but after studying abroad in Paris last year, this is the straight up reason sandwiches in Paris are better. 

Let me also tell you that in France, any type of butter with a fat content of less than 80 percent cannot, legally, be called butter. So skip your diet and butter both sides of the bread… the French demand it. 

Meanwhile, bread in America is bad. It never has the right crust, and the inside is always too dense. The only place that makes a real loaf of bread in the U.S. is Allston’s Clear Flour Bread & Bakery, and, sadly, this pandemic has forced them into temporary closure. The nerve of the coronavirus — I mean seriously? Messing with French bread and pastry? I digress. I have a tip, though, for making your bread better and also for reviving stale bread. 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then, and take me seriously here, run your bread under water (don’t be afraid to drench her). Stick your bread in the oven for five to eight minutes and voila: a perfectly steamed loaf of bread with a crispy crunch. I swear by this, so go do it. Also, try to get a baguette. It’s just better.

Also, you MUST make sandwiches using the whole baguette, and then you have to eat the whole baguette by yourself. Or at LEAST cut it in half and share it with someone you really, really like.  

Now if you’re not into spice, don’t read this section. But you should anyways. You have to put hot oil on your sandwich. It’s delicious, but optional. And don’t be afraid to mess around with condominents. Get some high quality pickles, or make your own mayos and aiolis. I always love to play around with different cheeses and I’m also a huge fan of green olives. You won’t regret getting creative, and it’ll make the sandwich making process even longer (which is just what we need right now to pass time). 

This is a piece of advice you have to take: buy good quality cold cuts. Or whatever leftovers you put in there, make sure the ingredients are high quality. It’s totally worth it and sometimes that means supporting local farms or butchers. 

Which brings me to my penultimate point… 

Support your local businesses. Even if they’re closed for the time being, try to grab a gift card and let them know that you still support them. Times are hard hard for everyone right now, so you might as well have a nice loaf of bread waiting for you when this is all over.