Food
12:20 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

300 Sandwiches: The Secret To Boyfriend's Heart?

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 12:56 pm

What makes a guy put a ring on it? New York Post reporter Stephanie Smith hopes 300 sandwiches will be her answer.

It all started after one particularly tasty turkey sandwich she made for her boyfriend. Smith says that the sandwich was so good, he said, "You're, like, 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring."

So Smith got cookin' and is sharing her journey of food and love through her blog, 300sandwiches.com. It features a daily gourmet sandwich recipe.

Critics have taken to social media, blasting her for twisting herself into a pretzel to please her man.

Host Michel Martin spoke with Smith about her blog, the criticism she's been receiving, and why she hasn't proposed.


Interview Highlights

Why Sandwiches

We had been dating for over a year and he had cooked many of the meals in our house and I just wasn't that strong in the kitchen. But the running joke between us was, the only thing he wanted was for me to make him sandwiches. So one day, I did.

On The Criticism

I encourage [critics] to read the blog, and read all of the stories that have taken us from sandwich one to now 179. ... It's not just a girl making all this food to earn a man's love. This is a journey between the two of us as we continue on towards engagement. And I don't think I'm less of a woman or a hard-charging career woman because I want to do something nice for my boyfriend.

'Make Me A Sandwich'

I've gotten so many great stories from people who have also bonded with loved ones, children or parents through food or particularly sandwiches. ...We use the phrase "make me a sandwich." It's like a euphemism for, you know, "give me a kiss," or "show me some lovin'" and I think people can start to use that in the same way.


Sandwich #130 - "Weekend Productivity" Mozzarella and Homemade Pesto BLT (from 300sandwiches.com)

2 buns or baguettes, cut into sandwich sized pieces (about 5" long)

2 cups fresh basil

1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

2/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup pine nuts

salt and pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic

1 squeeze lemon wedge

1/2 ball mozzarella, sliced

1/2 tomato, sliced

5-6 strips bacon

1 bunch arugula

2 more tablespoons olive oil (to dress arugula)

Make the pesto: in a food processor, combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, cheese, salt and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil as you blend the ingredients on medium speed in processor. Add juice from squeeze of lemon wedge and give pesto one last pulse to make sure lemon juice is evenly blended.

Fry bacon to desired crispness in a non-stick skillet on medium low heat. Remove from heat and drain grease from bacon on paper towel-lined plate. Toast baguette. Remove from heat and lay out on cutting board or plate. Dress arugula in a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper.

Slather on pesto, then layer on arugula, tomato, then mozzarella, then a leaf or two of basil, then bacon. Top with a small dollop of pesto, then top with other slice of bread. Smush gently and serve. Makes two 5" BLTs.



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Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're turning now from the power of money to the power of food. The Internet is buzzing with writer Stephanie Smith's new project. She's making her boyfriend 300 sandwiches. We'll let her tell you how it all started, but let's just say, she's hoping for something sparkly in a little box at the end of it. People who have already heard her story have decidedly mixed reactions. Some people say it is genius, others have called the project bologna to twist yourself into a pretzel to please a guy. Stephanie Smith is a reporter at the New York Post, and she's with us now to tell us more. Welcome, thanks so much for joining us.

STEPHANIE SMITH: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So you made your guy a sandwich and it was tasty. What happened next?

SMITH: Apparently. Well, apparently the sandwich was so tasty that he blurted out, honey, you're 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring.

MARTIN: And you thought...

SMITH: I thought, wow, who knew that a sandwich could be so good? I mean, you know, at this point, we had been dating for over a year. We - you know, he had cooked many of the meals in our house and I just wasn't that strong in the kitchen. But the running joke between us was the only thing he wanted was me to make him sandwiches. So one day I did. And when I did, that's when he blurted out those fateful words.

MARTIN: Those fateful words. How many sandwiches into it are you?

SMITH: One seventy-nine.

MARTIN: One seventy-nine. What's been the favorite so far?

SMITH: Well, he loves the prime rib, and that was something that I made early on in the project. It was one of those just sort of, like, late-night - he had been working in the office late and it was just homey and good and just comforting.

MARTIN: You know, people will have heard your story - you've been on some of the morning shows at this point. It's kind of all over the Internet and, to put it bluntly, some young women, in particular - some not just young women - but I think a lot of women have said that this is just terrible, antifeminist. You're taking us back. What do you say to that?

SMITH: Well, I encourage them to read the blog and read all of the stories, you know, that have taken us from sandwich one to now 179. As I've mentioned, Eric does most of the cooking in our house. He also tends to our garden. He helps me grocery shop, and he prepares most of the meals, you know, each day. So it's not just sort of, you know, a girl making all of this food to earn a man's love. You know, this is a journey between the two of us as we, you know, continue on towards engagement. And I don't think that there is - you know, I don't think I'm less of a woman or a hard-charging career woman because I want to do something nice for my boyfriend.

MARTIN: Well, what do you make of the reaction?

SMITH: You know, I knew it would touch a nerve because, you know, food is love and people have many opinions about food and sandwiches and, you know, I wasn't surprised. But I do really encourage people to remember that he was the one that did most of the cooking in the house. And now this project has allowed us to share that together.

MARTIN: You know, you do say - I don't know - the blog, the piece that I read opens with - it says, my boyfriend Eric is the gourmet cook in our relationship but he always wants me to make him a sandwich. And every morning, he would ask, honey, how long have you been awake? About 15 minutes, I'd replied. You've been up for 15 minutes and you haven't made me a sandwich? And, you know, you could look at that one of two ways. This is one of those cute things that couples say to each other, and other people look at that and think, what are you, his field hand? What do you mean you're up for 15 minutes and you haven't made me a sandwich? And I'm just wondering if you kind of regret, you know, opening the door to this private moment, or do you just tell people, you know, to take it as it is.

SMITH: No, I don't regret it at all because I've gotten so many great stories from people who have also either bonded with, you know, loved ones or children or parents through food and particularly sandwiches. You know, when he did say that - we use the phrase, you know, make me a sandwich. It's like a euphemism for, you know, give me a kiss or, you know, show me some loving. And I think people can start to use that in the same way.

MARTIN: OK, sticky question here, which is, why don't you just ask him to marry you? Why don't you just ask him?

SMITH: I think as this project has gone along, the focus on the engagement - I put less focus on the end more so than the journey. It has been so much fun every single day to learn about each other to see, you know, how something as simple as toasting the bread can, like, affect our entire meal together, our entire day. So, you know, we're just enjoying the process, really.

MARTIN: Is it surprising to you that some people seem to be so mad at you for doing something nice - you want to be doing something nice, or is it just that we are in such a time that people feel that there's nothing without politics?

SMITH: I think that - it is surprising that people aren't looking at sort of the deeper meaning behind it and thinking, wow, you know, she just did one nice thing for her boyfriend that, you know, was so transformative. And I think that people should really take the time and look through all the stories and see how, you know, we really bonded through this project.

MARTIN: Now I know you said that it's been more about the journey and less about the destination, but if you don't get that ring, do we all have to hunt him down and beat him up?

SMITH: I hope not.

MARTIN: Joking.

SMITH: I hope not.

MARTIN: Joking. Metaphorically speaking.

SMITH: Yes.

MARTIN: Express our extreme disapproval, however we do it.

SMITH: I hope not.

MARTIN: You do have some big strong brothers, I hope.

SMITH: I do.

MARTIN: OK, so you feel confident. OK. Have you picked out the carat, oval, square?

SMITH: I have not picked out anything, and I have gotten no indication from Eric that he has started ring shopping, so.

MARTIN: Tweet us his phone number.

SMITH: I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

MARTIN: Stephanie Smith is a senior reporter for the New York Post. She was with us from NPR New York. Stephanie, thanks so much for joining us.

SMITH: Thank you.

MARTIN: A little inspiration for you. Here's Beyonce. You know what she's going to say.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SINGLE LADIES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.