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A Sandwich a Day: Cemita de Pierna at Cemitas Poblanas, Seattle

In this great nation of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.


[Photograph: Naomi Bishop]

The Cemita ($8.25) at Cemitas Poblanas in Seattle's Boulevard Park neighborhood is a great sandwich. It's also the poster child for the campaign against authenticity as the end-all and be-all of food criticism. I'd really hoped to find a giant fluffy bun sheltering endless wads of unstrung quesillo at this strip-mall storefront.

The pictorial menu does little to warn of what's to come, other than offer an unhelpful photo of a generic sandwich, a translation of the overall meat (pork), and a perfunctory warning that it's spicy. What arrives at the table is a large, thick sandwich, the bulk of which comes from a densely packed layer of pork shank, braised and served in a red chili sauce. The rest of the sandwich is simple, forgoing the typical filler: Inside, you'll find avocado, onion, cheese, and optional jalapeños. The cheese, which, in a more authentic cemita, would be the stringy and hand-torn, was instead a simple fresh Mexican cheese, sliced. But the cool saltiness, resistant to melting when up against the warm meat, turned out to be a benefit. The bun was flat, more like that of a torta than a cemita, but with the requisite sesame seeds, and it held strong against the weight of the meat.

What can I say? It's not an authentic cemita. But for those prepared to adjust their expectations, it is a great sandwich, the spice and sharpness in the sauce and onion softened by the mellow avocado, soft bread, and cool cheese.

About the author: Naomi Bishop is a Seattle based food and travel writer. Find her wandering through words and worlds on her blog, TheGastroGnome, where she claims that being a GastroGnome is not about sitting idly on the front lawn of culinary cottages. Follow her explorations of cooking and culture around the world at @GastroGnome. Get restaurant suggestions and locate local eats in the Northwest from her app, Unique Eats of the Northwest.

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