After two disappointing sandwiches in a row, I felt like I’d lost my Hamdel mojo. For such an egregiously unhealthy bunch of sandwiches, dry meat and insipid sauce made each bite a calorically devastating exercise in sensory deprivation. In order to get my mojo back, I decided to try the mysteriously titled Mojo Melt—hot roast beef, melted American cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing on a toasted hero. At first, the name seems nonsensical, since mojo usually describes a Caribbean sauce redolent of garlic and cumin. Assuming, however, that the Mojo Melt alludes to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, meaning begins to emerge from a grab bag of incongruous ingredients. Reading Austin Powers as a parody of spy narratives like the James Bond series, the film satires the representations of U.S.-Soviet relations during the Cold War. East meets West in the Mojo Melt too, American cheese mingling with Russian dressing. Perhaps, this sandwich attempts to distill subversive texts into a creamy, chemically lunchtime meal. If Austin ate this monster right after losing his mojo, the film would have been considerably shorter. I got my Hamdel mojo back at least.
To qualify this implicitly lavish praise, the Mojo Melt is not a life changing sandwich. The roast beef, shaved to velvet shards and floating in a cloud of fragrant steam, drowns in the gooey, bright yellow cheese. Frankly, American cheese ruins this sandwich, sticking all over the bread like peanut butter gone chemical warfare. While bits of coleslaw add an appealing crunch, the Russian dressing tastes strangely sweet, not at all piquant. Similar to a Reuben in thematic thrust, the Mojo Melt’s meat, melted cheese, and coleslaw combination falls short of sauerkrauty perfection. This sandwich needs more acid and more spice, not more sweetness.
Nevertheless, I wolfed down my Mojo Melt like a starving secret agent caught behind enemy lines. Something about hot roast beef warms my stomach and fortifies my heart, the right food for rainy afternoons playing save the free world in Morningside Park. I would order this sandwich again. I would even send one back in time to Austin Powers.
Next: the Oh Barbara (Virginia ham, salami, pepperoni, melted Muenster cheese, lettuce, and tomato on a toasted hero).