Celebrating a New York classic: The bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich
- 2 eggs
- One roll
- 6 pieces of bacon
- Two slices of American cheese
- Salt/pepper (by taste)
- Place bacon strips on pan at medium heat, flipping occasionally for even cooking
- Crack eggs in bowl, stir until fully scrambled and cook in a pan at medium heat until fully cooked
- Put roll in toaster
- Place roll on a plate and put egg and bacon on the sandwich
- Place cheese on top and wait until it melts
- Add salt and pepper to taste and wrap in tin foil
The mystery of the perfect bacon, egg, and cheese has been on my mind the past few weeks. I was intrigued that most New Yorkers, despite their differences, can all agree that bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches are both delicious and a staple New York City food.
My mind was swarmed with ideas. I wondered what the most popular times this sandwich was ordered. I wondered what it was that made this sandwich special enough to unite a community. I wondered what my friends’ personal takes to this sandwich order were.
The deli, also known as a corner store or a bodega, is where I go to acquire this delicious item. The order is as follows, “Can I get a bacon, egg, and cheese, toasted, on a roll, and salt and pepper?”
The key is to ask for both “toasted on a roll” and for salt and pepper. An untoasted sandwich is not a pleasant-tasting thing and if there’s no salt or pepper, I wonder if asking
I wonder what makes a BEC special enough to be so widely loved. Is it the combination of breakfast and a sandwich, or could it be the ease and accessibility? I am interested in how they are so commonly found in two opposite hands, one of local teenagers and one of construction workers going about their lives.
I also question if the variations between the types of bacon egg and cheese sandwiches matter too. I wonder if customers would notice if you add two eggs instead of one, less cheese or double the bacon, or if you put on hot sauce and ketchup. Does this really change the sandwich? Maybe it is just what you decide is good or not.
To further explore the mystery of the BEC, I decided to go to my local deli and ask Johnny and Carlos, the cook and the guy at the cash register, a few questions.
I started off by asking Johnny behind the counter how he prepared this magical meal.
“Well first off we put the bacon on the grill and scramble the eggs. We put the roll in the toaster and after that’s all done, we layer the bacon, the egg, and some American cheese on the rolls and top it off with salt and pepper. Now, sometimes we get orders asking for more cheese, or less egg, so it really depends on what the customer wants,” Johnny responded.
Next, I wondered when this sandwich delight was most popular.
“Usually we have construction workers coming in here at around seven, eight in the morning asking for BEC. Midday, we get a lot of students coming in to get a BEC during lunch break. And around nine, ten o’clock at night, right before we close, we get some people coming in ordering a BEC as well,” Carlos responded.
Now when living in New York City, ordering bacon, egg and cheese is like second nature. To get data from the people of the city themselves, I asked my friend Cara, who has lived in Brooklyn her whole life, what her regular order is.
“My BEC order is, ‘Lemme get a bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll toasted with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.”
Throughout my interviews it became very clear that people of all different kinds order BEC and it can bring a community together.
When I am out with friends and we are hungry, we make a trip to the nearest deli. I always go to order a BEC without shame, as they are amazing and always fix my mood. I have the same habits as from when I was a kid, I always get a Lemon Iced Tea Arizona bottle with my sandwich. The Arizona combination is perfect, as New Yorkers all over can agree.
I have gotten this sandwich ever since I was a kid. My dad and I would go out and get a sandwich with cold Arizona’s and chips to share. We would eat them while laughing about our days and walking around the warm streets of Brooklyn. We’d look around the mundane sidewalk and the row-b- row houses that line the blocks.
We finally arrived at our spot to sit; the playground a few blocks from my house with tables. Even though these tables were obviously meant for games of chess, we could tell from their checkered print, we had no care for those rules and sat down to finish munching on our treats. While we ate, his playlist of classic rock music echoed through my ears, my childhood. This sandwich holds dear in my heart as I have so many past memories of it, and so many recent experiences with it and many more to come.