Why One Editor Thinks All Sandwiches Taste Better at the Beach

One BLT with a side of sandy toes, please and thank you.

Photo: Alison Miksch

Let me begin by sharing that I am no beach fanatic. My fair complexion usually keeps me hiding in the shade, and when given a choice between applying another round of sunscreen and heading indoors, I almost always choose the latter. Annual beach trips weren't a regular part of my childhood, but as an adult I somehow created a circle of sand-loving friends and in-laws. Before the summer begins, I'll stock up on large hats and sun protection shirts, all while plotting my first lunch on the beach.

As a lifelong sandwich enthusiast, I've discovered my favorite part of an afternoon near the waves (apart from seeing loved ones, of course): no matter what you've packed between those two slices of bread, it always tastes better on the beach. This was a mantra I'd heard before, but I decided to put it to the test last summer.

I kicked off Memorial Day weekend with a homemade BLT in Galveston, Texas. As soon as I finished, I immediately wondered why I hadn't packed a second. In June, I ventured outside the South for an egg-and-cheese bagel on Sconset Beach in Massachusetts and I finished the summer with a few PB&Js on white bread in North Carolina's Outer Banks over Labor Day weekend. My sandwich on the beach theory held up in all three locations.

Since I obviously put significant thought into my lunch, I took time to consider the reasons behind this tastebud phenomenon. It takes serious effort to get out to the beach. By the time you've slathered on sunscreen, packed your bags, carried your chairs, and run back to the house for a few forgotten items, you're spent. Add in a few hours playing in the sun, and a lunch break is practically necessary to keep you moving.

But it's not just my rumbling tummy that makes these sandwiches so good. To me, everything tastes just a tiny bit saltier on the beach. Perhaps it's the sand blowing in the wind that makes the jelly sweeter, and helps the flavor of the local tomatoes pop. Maybe I'm buying ingredients that I don't typically have in my home pantry. Whether it's veggies from a roadside stand, or a brand of peanut butter that reminds me of sandwiches made by my mom, these vacation delights can inspire all kinds of nostalgia. Lastly, it doesn't hurt to enjoy a meal with an unobstructed view of the waves crashing to the shore.

Now the question remains: How many sandwiches will I need to eat to finally fall in love with the beach?

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