In fact, there were two peanut butter-based nominations: one with bacon, on toast, by an old college roommate and a PB&J by my 9-year-old grandson, Hugo. The former — PB on T, we called it — was a staple, served by an eatery known as George and Harry’s in New Haven, Conn., more than a half-century ago; the latter, a third-grade school lunch favorite.
There was a Kosher Bart. Ethnically I am a WASP, but I have been blessed with Jewish in-laws, one of whom, Kira Messinger, thought I deserved a kosher sandwich. It was equal parts pastrami and corned beef, with mustard and Thousand Island dressing between two slices of bread, pan-fried and topped off with olives and pimentos. “No cheese, no dairy products,” said Kira.
My friends Jenny and Steve Lindsay wrapped their sandwich in an obituary page of The Washington Post, because I wrote obits at The Post for 20 years. “This is to die for,” they said. Their sandwich was toasted sourdough bread filled with brie, thinly sliced roast beef, arugula, caramelized Vidalia onions, mayonnaise and horseradish. It finished in second place.
From La Jolla, Calif., came an absentee entry from a long-standing friend, Ann Craig. She called it the Ultimate Bart: bologna, apple and radishes, all chopped into quarter-inch dice and mixed with tartar sauce. Delicious. As was true for many entries, the first letters of the sandwich’s ingredients spelled my name.
Debbie Danielson, who runs the Forecast, a women’s clothing boutique across the street from Eastern Market on Seventh Street SE, produced another BART acronym sandwich: bacon, avocado, ’rugula and tomato on white bread. “You’re a white-bread kind of guy,” she told me. I’m not exactly sure what that means. Debbie had to cancel out of the contest at the last minute, but she still serves her Bart to selected customers at her shop.
Turkey was an ingredient in more than one of the sandwiches, in part, I suppose, because T is the last letter of my name. But there might have been a more subtle message. Karen Getman, a Capitol Hill neighbor and friend, wrote on her entry: “Bart was born in November, so the turkey must be his favorite bird. Humorous innuendos could also be considered part of the theme.”
Smoked trout was a dominant ingredient in the sandwich of Rich Rubenstein, an author and professor at George Mason University. But one of the judges busted Rich’s sandwich.
“That’s too sophisticated for Bart,” Jennifer said.
It was Mark Crowdis, the president of his own green energy company, who created the winning sandwich. He knows I love baseball and hot weather, and he tried to reflect that in his entry. It featured many tentacles of thinly sliced, pan-fried all-beef ballpark franks plus onion, bell pepper, sweet pickles, Jamaican hot pepper sauce and extra-sharp cheddar cheese — all between thick slabs of jalapeno cheese bread.
I liked it, although I got to eat only a quarter of it. The judges ate the rest. They liked it, too — for its spiciness, its sharpness and its zest.
“It tasted good . . . . It was all about flavor,” said Kirsten Poole. “That’s why they made it the Bart,” she said. But there was another reason as well: what Kirsten described as a “whimsical nature” about it, which she said reflected my personality.
I hadn’t known I was whimsical.
Of course, there were complaints about the verdict. “MY sandwich was better. You should try MINE,” or words to that effect, was a litany I have heard a dozen times since that night.
So that’s what I’m doing. I have all the recipes. I’m saving the Bart for last.
But I cannot help thinking of the old Latin maxim “de gustibus non est disputandum,” which, loosely translated, means “there is no accounting for taste.”
Barnes lives on Capitol Hill. He writes obituaries on a contract basis for The Post.