This past Saturday was the Slam Bam Co. Pop-up, presented by Chef Simeon Hall Jr at Arawak Cay. I have always believed food can transport you, transfix and transform you especially if it’s linked to a memory. So let’s talk about the good ole slam bam.
The words “slam bam” will bring one of a few combinations of things to mind. Hard cheese and bread, hard salami and bread, hard cheese with salami on bread; you get the point?
Phrases and associations like this go to the heart of where the simplest of culinary delights have their origins. It isn’t necessarily elegant food, and it isn’t meant to be. It is part of a tribe of Bahamian foods ranging from souse, to steamed fish. If all you had was some flour to make some bread, a couple pieces of government cheese then you had to make a meal out of it. It is about sustenance; making good food with what you had to work with.
In many ways, this is why Bahamian food is the perfect food if you measure perfection based on the lack of things that need to be removed in order for it to be delicious. Nothing superfluous at all about hard salami, hard cheese and bread, is there?
Naturally, there can be a revision of the concept without losing the simplicity that makes it beautiful or offending the tradition. The Slam Bam Co. pop was the merger between a little bit of the new with the old. A gourmet slam bam concept.
On approach, save for the busy West Bay street traffic in the background, everything about this makeshift island tuck shop had a homely, generically Bahamian feeling to it. It isn’t in the least bit ostentatious, but it is every bit efficient for its purpose. It almost looks as though it had been taken from a dock on one of the out islands, perhaps formerly used a fruit stand or maybe to sell dried conch and okra.
The greatest ode to tradition was the rock oven, churning out freshly baked loaves of bread. The smell was enough to immediately provoke nostalgia. It smelled of the kind of smoke that keep mosquitoes at bay and makes something nice to eat while you stayed warm sitting on the beach. You could almost hear ya grand aunt shouting “ya’ll make sure put on a tam or ya ga catch draft”.
Consistency in simplicity abounds when you check out the menu. I couldn’t decide which two sandwiches to try but I knew I had to try two. I landed on the thick-cut premium bologna, and the cheddar and butter EVOO spread.
With a slam bam, never-mind that it is a simple sandwich, in order to get it right you have to make sure you can get a little bit of every flavour in every bite. Think of it like eating a bit of meat, with a little bit of rice or cole slaw from a packed Sunday dinner plate. The flavours have to mesh. There has to be some element of balance. Mission accomplished.
The packaging was also what one could describe as "island chic" if sandwich packaging were a dress-code. Hand tied and folded; simple and to the point.
That hard cheese with EVOO butter spread is a sandwich I would eat every day for lunch, just because it is simple and delicious. There is a great deal of charm in the flavour combination of EVOO and cheddar. The bologna could have been fried a little on my second sandwich, but that is a personal preference. Nonetheless, the thickness of the slice was perfect, and the mayo and mustard ratio is just enough to make the sandwich taste great, but not so much to ruin the texture of the bread.
The bread was the star of this simple epicurean escapade. The bread was light and fluffy like a baked cloud with a soft crust; moist but not doughy like it was steamed and with nothing more than the necessary ingredients. I would say, it is somewhere between the famous “hospital bread” and Mr. Sands’ bread from Eleuthera, but nearer to latter.
It was a quick trip down memory lane for many I am sure. It made me think of high school, sort of; summers in Eleuthera as well. Had I more time, I would likely have eaten one of everything just for completeness. Hopefully, there is another Slam Bam Co pop-up soon. They got to make sure they have this Chef who came in his Fondzworth Bentley best to hook-up the fritter station lolol. If “pimpin’ ain’t easy” was a person...