Over the last two years, award-winning journalist Jonas Cramby has released three cookbooks. The first dealt with the spicy Tex-Mex kitchen, while the second romanticized the American south and the region’s age-old method of smoking meat for hours. Third time around, sandwiches are on the menu. Aptly titled Sandwiches, it is a cookbook completely dedicated to its subject and if you think that sounds a bit boring, you’ve never been more wrong. With inspiration from all the corners, bistros, cafés and kitchens of the world, Jonas Cramby has compiled an elegant book with attention to detail, stunning photographs, first-class writing and a whole lotta love for the sandwich.
Tex-Mex cuisine and minimalistic burgers have been some of the more recent food trends, and now, sandwiches are said to be the latest thing. Do you consider yourself to be someone who follows, or perhaps even sets, trends in food?
No, you can’t think like that at all. If you set out to do stuff because it’s ”trendy”, you’re already out of the game. I’ve been cooking these types of food at home for 10-15 years, so for me it’s simply because I enjoy the taste of it.
Do you remember your first sandwich?
No, but I do remember the first time I realized sandwiches can be so much more than just a regular light bread cake with some farm cheese. I think I was around ten years old, and I was in Nice with my parents. They let me taste a baguette sandwich on the boardwalk. Today there’s nothing special with a baguette sandwich, but back then I’d never tasted anything so fantastic before.
Are you nurturing dreams of being a chef through your books, or is it about something else?
Even though I greatly admire and have respect for many talented restaurant chefs, I would never want to be one myself. It just seems incredibly tough. And just because you’re a good chef doesn’t mean you would write good cookbooks. Chefs are good at cooking food at restaurants, writers are good at writing books. So for me it’s about just that: to try and write as good books as possible.
This is your third book in two years. Are you switching career path from journalism?
To be able to provide for oneself by writing books is the dream. And I’m not saying they have to be in the cooking genre. It’s difficult surviving as a freelance journalist in Sweden; you have to write a crazy amount each month just to earn a normal salary. But with books there’s at least the opportunity to make the amount of money I consider one deserves.
Do you have a kitchen tool you couldn’t live without?
Now that I’ve been working on my book on sandwiches, there’s a lot of recipes for bread I’ve tried out. Naturally, my hand blender has proved to be indispensable. There’s nothing sensual about kneading.
Your first book on cooking took on the spicy Tex-Mex world, and the follow-up mirrored your love for smoked meat. How and why did sandwiches become your next move?
Mostly because I think we’re really terrible at making sandwiches here in Sweden. Stockholm really is one of the best cities for food in the world, but at the same time it seems impossible to get a hold of a decent sandwich for lunch. I really hope my book can play a part in some sort of change in this inadequacy.
Have you had any sandwiches at all in Stockholm that almost measure up to your standards?
I’ve had several okay sandwiches and sSome cool sandwich spots have popped up around town though; Pom & Flora, Love Food Café at Marie Laveau and Bon Bon Deli, to name a few.
How about food in general? Where do you go to eat lunch these days?
Sushi Sho at Odenplan.
Your inspiration seems to derive much from the US and particularly the South’s romance for barbecue and slow-cooking meat. Did you build the foundation for this book with influences from the states as well?
The inspiration for this book comes from the whole world, not just the US. On the other hand, the US are perhaps world leaders when it comes to sandwiches and is a cultural melting pot, which means you could probably find every thinkable sandwich over there.
The deli culture in the States, with fast lunches – often sandwiches with fresh deli meat and such – is missing in Stockholm. Would they work here?
Yeah, definitely. I’m convinced there’s more food interested al desko people here, per capita, than anywhere else in the world.
Your cookbooks are filled with inspiring texts surrounding each dish and ingredient, which makes it quite protruding compared to other books in the genre. The words combined with the pictures create a unity and goes beyond a book ”just filled with recipes.” Do you see yourself as a writer, a cook – or perhaps both?
I see myself as a writer who just happens to write a lot about food right now. I write about other stuff too, but right now food is right up my alley for some reason.
If I were to pick only one sandwich from your book and make it, which one would you recommend?
My Reuben sandwich. Insanely tasty.