Saturday, September 29, 2007

The spanjo can make it anywhere

Some of my favorite memories of undergraduate silliness were the great smokeouts of basement Cooley. Emu, Nature Boy, Big John and the King would each light up a huge cigar and choke the halls with a sweet cloud of Dominican smoke. But we weren't trying to act like grownups.We also regularly checked the door of The Halfway Inn Halfass at 3:30am to see if it was latched. When it wasn't we were able to satiate all our childish Mint Chocolate Chip and Superman ice cream needs.

Barry Popik has posted to ADS-L a brief report on the travels of an excellent Ann Arbor sandwich: the spanjo. The notable nosh--native to East Quad's Halfass (yes--just off basement Cooley)--has made it to the Big Apple. (For info on the city's nickname see Popik) Of the sandwich's journey he writes

I was reading today in about a sandwich shop in NYC that offers the "spanjo" sandwich. It's spreading outside of Ann Arbor! (Too bad the Wikipedia entry was deleted last year [because] the sandwich wasn't popular enough.)

Alas. It deserves a page and more.

In his post he includes bits and pieces from Gothamist™, the menu from Papa Lima Sandwich in Brooklyn, Urban Dictionary, an RC wiki, a Friendster comment, a discussion thread regarding the deletion from Wikipedia (do a text search for "spanjo"), and an ILX bulletin board about Ann Arbor (A2~AA).

Mash all the recipes together and the sandwich is made of cream cheese, melted cheddar, Swiss Cheese, spliced apple, sauteed apples, and sprouts, on bread (possibly wheat, possibly toasted)--and some start by calling it a grilled cheese with some of the above. (Would that "spliced apple" be a typo for 'sliced-'? I remember them being sliced, not spliced--unless you consider that every ingredient is spliced into one sandwich. No--sliced.)

As I ordered the spanjo it was a grilled cheese of cheddar on wheat, with cream cheese, alfalfa sprouts and crunchy sliced apples. And that's the variety we'd expect from a weird sandwich in a strange dorm in a little cafe that says "Halfway Inn" on the wall (and all brochures and official web pages) but is known by everyone in EQ as The Halfass.

I first learned of the spanjo from my friend Susan who started at Michigan a year before I did. She told me I had to live in East Quad because that was the only dorm that promised to understand me. It was home to the Residential College where going to class in a bathrobe was common. It was the dorm that had Resident Fellows instead of Resident Assistants. Why? Just to be different.


  1. Wow, I didn't know you did your undergrad here! My experience with the Halfass is completely related to rock shows - did they have those there when you were around? is a unique little place from what I gather. The sandwich sounds delicious.

  2. Ah yes 5 glorious years. The first 2 in East Quad.

    There were occasional shows in the Halfass when I was there but it was mostly open mic stuff and the occasional weird local folk singer.

    And I mean weird in a wonderful way.

    The spanjo was delicious--it had my loyalty but shared it with the hummus, falafel and fresh sprouts on pita, and the very simple pasta salad. I still remember those clear plastic containers...sigh.


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