Meat and Bread- The Nerve to Be Simple

In response to Daily Post’s daily prompt- Nerve. A food review.

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The place is just called MEAT AND BREAD. Photo credit: Mia Xing
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The sweet torture of standing in line drooling and watching sandwiches being made. Photo credit: Mia Xing
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The simple layout. Simple, simple, simple. Photo credit: Mia Xing
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Yum. Photo credit: Mia Xing

Yup, a sandwich shop today taught me the bravery to be just simple. It’s called Meat and Bread.

“Oh that place! It’s on Google Maps. Meat and Bread. I think they do sandwiches.” I said, and my parents and I rushed across the street before the signal light turned red, and voila! We pretty much just bumped/stumbled/barged/plunged into Meat and Bread, a small sandwich shop in downtown Vancouver.

And just like our totally simple, somewhat blunt entrance, the whole experience at Meat and Bread was simple, warm and has a delicate (and delicious, of course) breadth and depth. Yes, I mean “broad”–> breadth, not bread.

There was a philosophy to Meat and Bread sandwiches. I mean, you probably can’t find a downtown shop that’s any smaller, but their space had a buzzing self-sufficiency and self-confidence, almost… a sort of courage, a nerve.

According to Google, it was a “chic industrial setting”; for me, let’s just call it the nerve to be simple.

Starting from its name. Of course “The Flying Monkey” “Light, Pepper and Love” (I just made these up from what I’ve seen) are very good names, but MEAT AND BREAD. Well, it’s just sandwiches. Of course it is meat and bread. It is a name that has no hidden meanings except for one,- we make meat and bread. Just meat and bread. Meat we give you the best, and bread we give you the best.

And their sandwiches were indeed hors ligne. They had a small menu, and as newbies we just went for three signature sandwiches, in which the only ingredients I could tell is turkey and avocado. And some lettuce, I think? But all I remember is an almost-perfect entity. And the flatbread was golden, crisp and warm, and comes with the additional charm of letting you watch it being cut open when waiting in line. You could see the crumbs on the wooden cutting board. You could not help but turn around and check if there are any new seats open, although you had just checked 30 seconds ago,- you just could not wait to sit down and eat!

Moving on to layout. They had a very smart way of presenting their dish,- well it’s just a sandwich. But they put it on a piece of wood, with a yellow round perfect amount of mustard at the side (see the photo above). It had a simple, original sophistication that does not make you nervous. It is such a friendly way of presentation: bread, meat, wood, dip. But certainly you could tell it took some solid thinking to come up with such a neat idea.

Of course, there was also the atmosphere. Or if we want to get fancy here, the ambience. There was just one long table where people sat facing each other, almost like a canteen. Enough privacy to be heads-down, all bent upon savouring your sandwich, or if you wish, there is enough openness to start a conversation with a stranger. “Is that meatball that you’re having?” “Yeah, that’s meatball. And you’re having…?”

And there is also the shimmering thrill of overhearing from someone else at your table: “So this is only a lunch place?””Well, once they run out of their materials for the day…stop making sandwiches…yeah… you can call it a lunch place.” That just made me an even more devout admirer of the place.

When we were done eating… and I was done sneaking around and taking these photos, we stood up, and a guy in a grey shirt at the end of the table immediately came over, cleaned things up and collected the soda and beer bottles.

And we left the shop, with bread and meat and mustard and some other veggies in our stomach. Yum, was all I could think.

You might argue that today simplicity is also a commercial trick. You might argue that “hunger marketing” is officially a thing, that all business people know “LIMITED” only make customers crave the stuff more. You might argue that it’s commonplace, and does not take courage to be simple. It’s all just “fake” simple.

But you can’t fake simple. When you choose to name your place “Meat and Bread”, you are meat and bread. When you choose to just have a few things on your menu, and just make sandwiches for your main entrées, that’s it. Even if going with the SIMPLE “CHIC” style is their choice, it still does not change the fact that they are simple.

Plus, it takes nerve to be simple. The word NERVE probably makes you think of a mess. Nerve-wracking– chaos. Nervous– nail-biting. The nerve to do something- oftentimes considered unnecessary.

But doesn’t staying simple take some nerve, too? See, being simple is also a choice. Especially in the commercial world, actually. You can choose to go with the “simple” route, and that takes nerve.

My my, that meat and bread was gratifying.

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