Here's a ham sandwich I made for lunch today. Elly grew the lettuce in the backyard; the tomato is from our CSA; the cheese is a variety of soft parmesan; the ham, as you can see, is cut into one big slab; the mayonaise, which cannot be seen, I made with one yolk from the Zenger farm coop co-op and some olive oil; the bread I made with the same dough as the bagels, omitting an overnight proofing as I wanted a homogenous crumb. It's very simple but I think that with a good sandwich one needs to avoid the danger of becoming a Dagwood, which is to say, a humungous pile of many tasty leftovers and whatnots. Composure, elegance, and forethought are called for. Often with sandwiches, whether made at home or eaten at a deli, the more dramatic ingredients are added in abundance. Lots of mayonaise, lots and lots of meat, but then maybe only small amounts of the vegetable components.
Bread is the cornerstone of a sandwich but often it's the weakest ingredient. Pre sliced loaf bread has gotten better over the years but it's usually sliced a little too thin. The self described 'natural' styles of loaf bread like they used to make at The Daily Grind had a dense, well baked crumb which lent itself to sandwiches. But the gluten is often poorly developed, due to the addition of other kinds of grain, so you are left with crumbling and broken slices. The fashion towards ciabatta rolls solved a lot of problems of it's predecessor, the kaiser roll. With the kaiser roll every person got a nice, neat little bun, but often there was too much bread. The ciabatta roll has an airy and open crumb, which means less bread in the same size. If you made a sandwich out of slices of a large ciabatta loaf all the holes would lead to excessive seepage of mayonnaise, but with a ciabatta bun the thick and crunchy crust provides an elegant barrier. However, this crust is precisely the problem of the ciabatta roll, it takes so much jaw pressure to break through it, espreccially if the roll isn't very fresh, that with the lubrication of the mayonaise, mustard and various meat and vegetable juices, the fillings are often squeezed out right onto your plate. In short, I think well made sliced bread still makes the best sandwiches.