I was in the mood for an open-faced sandwich of Shrimp and Grits. Maybe I’d put an egg on it and call it a tartine. Or so I thought. However, I didn’t have grits and I didn’t have eggs. I did have beans and hutzpah (I mean harissa). So now you’re looking at Harissa Shrimp and Beans on a thick slab of toast. It’s not the elegant plate of food I’d imagined. It couldn’t possibly shoulder the shining title of tartine, but it’s hardy, flavorful, and has a nice jolt from harissa paste. I dare you not to like it.
That doesn’t mean that you won’t have a few questions about this open-faced shrimp and beans sandwich. Is it a meal or a snack? Breakfast or lunch? Healthy or decadent? Do you pick it up with two hands or eat it with a fork and knife? Heck. Is it even a sandwich?
Harissa Shrimp and Beans
I’ve said this before – but as a kid, nothing was as glorious to me as an open-faced sandwich. I may not have yet had the word tartine in my vocabulary, but to this 6‑year-old food nerd, an open-faced sandwich was the height of elegance. Regular kids ate sandwiches with two pieces of bread. Regular kids ate sandwiches with the crusts cut off by their mommies. But I liked to pull sandwiches apart, open them up, and serve them to myself open-faced while I watched my mother do her French homework and play Cat Stevens on the guitar.
I don’t know how I discovered the open-faced sandwich. But I do know that my love of the genre came from my mother, Cat Stevens, and the romance of conjugated verbs. Looking back it’s easy to see that the word tartine may have been there all along.
Harissa Shrimp and Beans Tartine. I’m starting to like the sound of that. GREG