Essay an ode to ham sandwich at The Apple Pan
By Dolores Quintana
An essay in The New Yorker magazine pays homage to an unsung menu item at a legendary restaurant in Westwood. The writer described their last lunch in Los Angeles where they always go to The Apple Pan, the venerable Westside institution on Pico.
The restaurant hasn’t changed much in 75 years and the reporter thinks that may be a part of its success. The interior of the restaurant clings to the wood paneling and burgundy vinyl seating. It has a U shaped counter and their beverages are still served in a white paper cone that is held by a metal holder rather than the standard glass or plastic container. The restaurant doesn’t have air conditioning, but uses ceiling fans and open windows to move a breeze through the room.
One of the restaurant’s specialities is its burgers and slices of pie. According to The New Yorker, the move is to arrive at The Apple Pan an hour and a half before they are scheduled to go to the airport and make their customary order of a hickory burger with cheddar cheese, fries, and a slice of banana cream pie. The real move, according to the reporter, is to order a ham sandwich for take out and to eat it as a snack on the flight home. The reporter says, “I try to hold out until the plane crosses the Rockies, but on particularly hungry afternoons I’ll have taken the first bite as early as Arizona.”
The Apple Pan describes that ham sandwich by saying, “Our own baked ham served with mayonnaise and lettuce on choice of bread.” as quoted by The New Yorker. The reporter challenges that by describing the sandwich by saying, “This undersells what is one of the world’s great straight-shooter lunches: a small mountain of thinly sliced meat, pink as rose petals, beneath a similarly lofty pile of thick-cut iceberg lettuce, the whole thing gobbed with mayonnaise.”
The reporter describes the sandwich as a balm for the “inhumane ordeal of commercial air travel” and it’s true that the smart traveler will often come prepared for a long flight with a favorite meal or snacks. The reporter describes it as taking a little bit of the city of Los Angeles with you as you leave. They describe it as a mini rebellion against the aggressive corporate mediocrity of the airlines and their unimaginative in flight offerings.
In the final paragraph, the reporter describes how one can make The Apple Pan’s vaunted sandwich at home, quite easily. They do, however, mention that there’s never anything quite like the actual sandwich, ordered from the restaurant, itself.