What made you decide to go vegan?
Tami – I’ve been vegetarian since 1980. I had several stretches of time being macrobiotic or vegan, but didn’t really become a full-time committed vegan until 2004. It finally clicked with me and I’m a bit embarrassed that it actually took so long.
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Celine – I’d been an on-off vegetarian since 1990, and wasn’t completely sold on veganism until I met a friend back in 2004, who happened to be vegan and who showed me that veganism did not necessarily mean having to deprive yourself. So I went full-on vegan in 2005 and haven’t looked back since.
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Tami – Because they’re fun, portable, easy to mix-and-match, and my all-time favorite food. I eat a ton of them, so I know it’s easy to get into a rut. I wanted to change that.
Celine – Because bread! It’s the one food item I’d be saddest not to eat anymore, so packing it with fresh veggies and other goodies makes for the funnest eats.
What’s your favorite recipe in the book?
Tami – Loaded question! It’s different every day. I had a North End grinder this past weekend that was even better than I remembered. Let’s go with the last sandwich I had.
Celine – I’m going to pick a sweet item for a change, since I have only cited savories in other interviews: the peanut butter brownie sandwiches seem to be one of the many favorites for readers, too. Probably because you can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate. Unless you hate peanut butter and chocolate.
Tami – Those are hugely popular! I had Wingbean (www.wingbean.com) cater a book signing in Asheville, North Carolina and those were one of the sandwiches that were served. People couldn’t get enough of them!
You certainly seem to stretch the boundaries of “sandwich” in creating these recipes. In your words, what makes a sandwich, a sandwich?
Tami – That’s a great question. I guess for me it has to be some kind of spread, and a filling, even if it’s an open-faced sandwich. The bottom line is layers of flavor, but that’s a very loose definition because I wouldn’t refer to lasagna as a sandwich!
Celine – Like Tami, I think that a spread and a filling, along with something to pack/wrap/roll them into like bread or tortillas, are the three main components for a sandwich to be called a sandwich. Ideally, it would also be portable so that the show can be taken on the road without being too messy.
What is your process for creating a recipe?
Tami – It varies. Sometimes I have an idea in mind and know what I want to create, such as some of the traditional sandwiches. Other times, standing in front of the fridge seeing what I have to use next might be an inspiration. No matter what direction I come from, it becomes a matter of making the components that will complement each other.
Celine – Ditto Tami. Sometimes I also get special requests from family members who want me to recreate something they’ve had in the past, and just have to have again in vegan form.
How long did it take you to put together the book?
Tami – I think from the time we got the contract it took about 6 months.
Celine – It did, along with a little extra time for several rounds of edits. So more like 8 months in all.
Hot or cold sandwiches? Which are your favorite?
Tami – I’ll prove what a picky eater I can be. I like hot fillings, but usually topped with cold vegetables.
Celine – Make mine cold. I just like to be able to eat as soon as I’m hungry (I’m demanding that way), plus a lot of cold sandwiches are usually portable, which makes them easier to just grab and go and munch.
Have you ever had a sandwich disaster? If so, what happened?
Tami – Honestly, I don’t think I ever have. As long as you are using fresh ingredients I don’t think you can go too far wrong. Unless you hit soggy bread, that’s a sandwich killer for me. But of course, some sandwiches are just standouts. Those are the ones that made it into the book.
Celine – Absolutely! But those are the ones that didn’t make it into the book. (Hardy-har.) For example, I think it took me at least two tries to get the Croque-Monsieur right. The first round was a bit too soggy and unsatisfying, flavorwise. I still have memories of those sandwiches back when I was a non-vegan kid, so I wanted to get as close to how I remembered them to taste.
Your recipe names are simply awesome. How did you come up with them?
Tami – Some of the names just jump up and scream “pick me, pick me!” while others are a matter of brainstorming. My favorite recipe name is Green Monster in the Garden.
Celine – It’s my favorite name too! And I agree, some names come to us more easily than others.
You have a few “fusion sandwich” recipes. Do you travel often to get sandwich ideas?
Tami – I like to cook from a lot of different cultures, but I’ve never traveled outside of the U.S.
Celine – I’m a homebody these days, so some of the sandwiches are based on memories of my native Switzerland and of its surrounding countries, while others I just find out about via the wonderful world wide web and feel the urge to recreate in an animal-friendly sort of way.
If you could have any sandwich in the world named after you, which would it be?
Tami – The Reuben would no longer be a Reuben. It would be a Tami. It just doesn’t have the same ring to it. I guess the Reuben (not the Tami) remains my favorite sandwich ever.
Celine – I can’t think of any specific sandwich, but I’d be happy with something along the lines of fresh pesto and homemade vegan cheese, packed in crusty whole grain bread. Simple, but efficient.
Pick up your copy of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! today! Join us tomorrow to grab the recipe for Celine and Tami’s Taste of Tuscany sandwich. Trust me, it’s worth trying.
101 Colorful Sandwiches Your Brown Bag Never Saw Coming
What’s the best thing since sliced bread? The sandwich of course! Layered with flavor, simple and portable, and full of endless variety, sandwiches have been stealing the show for as long as they’ve existed.
But it’s time for the traditional, calorie-laden, meat-centric sandwich to move over, because there’s a new sheriff in town—the vegan sandwich! Filled with healthy, natural, plant-based ingredients, vegan sandwiches are your one-stop shop to total breakfast, lunch, or dinner satisfaction.
Tamasin Noyes is the author of American Vegan Kitchen and Grills Gone Vegan. She is the founder of http://www.veganappetite.com and has worked as a committed cookbook tester for many well-known vegan cookbook authors including Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Terry Hope Romero, and Robin Robertson. She resides in Ashtabula, OH.
Celine Steen is the author of several books and the founder of the award-winning blog Have Cake, Will Travel (http://www.havecakewilltravel.com). After over a decade of vegetarian eating, she decided to switch to a vegan lifestyle. Fearing it might mean the end of all good desserts, she decided to start making her own, for lack of ready-made and affordable options offered in her hometown. She lives in Bakersfield, CA.