Pan Bagnat Tunafish Sandwiches
There is something so perfectly American about the tuna fish sandwich that it’s hard to imagine the French having anything to do with the stuff.
The tuna fish sandwich just might be the first dish I ever mastered. When I was young, I would break out the can opener, and my recipe has never deviated since: albacore in water, lemon juice, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, on sliced oatmeal bread. While I attempted many high-fallutin’ dishes way back when, this was probably my only signature dish. With my nose in the air (as it should be in a kitchen full of canned fish), I was convinced no one could make it as well as I could. And I ate it all the time, sharing scraps with the family cat.
The French tuna fish sandwich is slightly more ornate. The Pan Bagnat, or bathing bread, has all the flavors of a Niçoise salad on a bun: tuna, hard-boiled egg, lemon, olives, anchovies, lettuce, tomato, vinaigrette. When I had it, it was plain chunky tuna, lemon mayonnaise, hard boiled egg, anchovy fillets, black olives, lettuce, and tomato, sold like a deli tuna fish sandwich at a bakery for hungry lunchers.