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BLT

The BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato) is a type of bacon sandwich.  The standard BLT is made up of five ingredients: bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and bread.  The five ingredients can be altered according to preference; for example, the bread can be toasted and the mayonnaise home-made or replaced with ranch dressing.  The sandwich has a high sodium and fat content, and has been specifically targeted by UK café chains in an effort to reduce salt and fat.BLT Sandwih

The BLT evolved from the tea sandwiches served before 1900 at a similar time to the club sandwich, although it is unclear when the name BLT became the norm.  It is currently one of the most popular sandwiches both in the United States and the United Kingdom, enjoyed by all social classes. The sandwich's popularity has led to a number of oversized reproductions (the current record for the "world's largest BLT" is over 209 ft/64 m) and a pop art sculpture by Claes Oldenburg.

Recipe

Whilst there are variations on the BLT, the essential ingredients are bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and bread. The quantity and quality of the ingredients are matters of personal preference. The bacon can be well cooked or tender, but as it "carries" the other flavors, chefs recommend using higher quality meat; in particular, chef Edward Lee states "Your general supermarket bacon is not going to cut the mustard".

Iceberg lettuce is a common choice because it does not add too much flavor whilst adding crunch.

Food writer Ed Levine has suggested that BLT does not require lettuce at all, as it is "superfluous", a suggestion that Jon Bonné, lifestyle editor at MSNBC, described as "shocking".  Michele Anna Jordan, author of The BLT Cookbook, believes the tomato is the key ingredient and recommends the use of the beefsteak tomato as it has more flesh and fewer seeds. Controversially, Ty Kauffman of the food quarterly Lebensmittel, has suggested that Egg is the most important and under-appreciated ingredient.

The mayonnaise used significantly influences the flavor of the BLT. In one survey, Hellmann's Mayonnaise was the most popular mayonnaise on the market, with cookbooks recommending it when a homemade alternative is not available. The bread can be of any variety, white or whole meal, toasted or not, depending on personal preference.

Variations

Due to the high sodium and fat content of the BLT, low-fat mayonnaise is a common substitute along with low salt bread and less fatty bacon. In 2009, seven large cafe chains in the UK made a commitment to reducing salt and fat through similar substitutions. A more visible solution is to use turkey bacon in lieu of normal bacon. One of the variations on the BLT is the club sandwich, a two-layered sandwich in which one layer is a BLT. The other layer can be almost any sort of sliced meat, normally chicken or turkey.

The BLT has been deconstructed into a number of forms, for example Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock created a BLT salad in The Gift of Southern Cooking, by cutting the ingredients into 1 inch (25 mm) pieces and tossing in mayonnaise. This variation was described by New York Times writer Julia Reed as "even more perfect than a BLT".

History

Although the ingredients of the BLT have existed for many years, there is little evidence of BLT sandwich recipes prior to 1900. In the 1903 Good Housekeeping Everyday Cook Book, a recipe for a club sandwich included bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and a slice of turkey sandwiched between two slices of bread. Whilst the 1929 book Seven Hundred Sandwiches does include a section on bacon sandwiches, the recipes often include pickles and none contain tomato.

The BLT became popular after World War II because of the rapid expansion of supermarkets, which allowed ingredients to be available year-round. The initials, representing "bacon, lettuce, tomato", likely began in the American restaurant industry as shorthand for the sandwich, but it is unclear when this transferred to the public consciousness.

Popularity

According to food historian John Mariani, it is the second most popular sandwich in the US, after the ham sandwich, and a poll by OnePoll in 2008 showed that it was the "nation's favorite" sandwich in the UK.

BLT sandwiches are most commonly eaten in the summer in the US, reducing stockpiles of pork and causing high pork prices towards the end of the season. A study commissioned by Hellmann's and Best Foods Mayonnaise compared the sandwich choices of 3,000 Americans to their answers from personality tests, the results of which suggested that people who preferred BLT sandwiches were "conscientious perfectionists".

BLT in culture

In 1963, pop art sculptor Claes Oldenburg created a giant BLT sandwich sculpture, currently on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It measures 32 by 39 inches and uses vinyl, kapok and wood, painted in acrylic. Every time it is moved, it must be restacked, which means it varies between exhibits. The artist has said that he has not set it up personally since its creation in 1963.

In 2003, a record for the world's largest BLT was created by Michele Anna Jordan, measuring 108 feet in length. It was prepared at a 2003 tomato festival in Sonoma County, California and had a total area of 14,976 square feet.  In 2008, Marie Ganister and Glenda Castelli created a 146 feet BLT – a sandwich which was originally planned with Jordan. The record was broken again the Iron Barley restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri, with a BLT measuring 179 feet, and is currently held by Bentley Dining Services for their 2009 attempt, measuring 209 feet 1 inch.

In 2004, the New Statesman reported that the sandwich chosen by a politician as his "favorite" is loaded with political symbolism.  For example, it suggested that a Chicken Tikka sandwich would be a "gentle nod to an imperial past and a firm statement of a multicultural present and future."

The article went on to explain that the then Leader of the Opposition William Hague had accused the then Prime Minister Tony Blair of being a hypocrite with regards to food, telling one portion of society that his favorite meal was fish and chips and another that it was a fresh fettuccine dish. The conclusion of the article was that Blair choose the BLT as his favorite sandwich, which appeals to all classes.

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