As an aspiring food writer and someone who puts peanut butter on everything, I often question my relevance in a country of haute gastronomie. But much like Tiffany Iung, I eventually found my niche, retelling traditional culinary tales as an outsider looking in.
Tiffany, the brains and bicycle behind Tifamade, Paris’ best sandwich vendor on two wheels, has been sharing her inspired sandwiches with Parisians since 2010. She can be spotted catering events throughout the city and peddling her handmade sandwiches from a vintage suitcase strapped to the back of Pink Lady, her pink bicycle. Using seasonal ingredients sourced from farmers markets and eco packaging, Tiffany has given the ubiquitous jambon beurre some fierce competition. But what is it about the humble sandwich that has Tiffany so impassioned? “A sandwich is not fussy. You hold it with your hands, and all of the flavors are experienced at once, so there isn’t too much thought about it. It’s just meant to taste good, and I think it gets the job done.” That’s good enough for us!
Not only do Tiffany’s 2-wheeled adventures inspire her sandwich creations, they led to the initial business idea too. “I was living in the banlieue, the Parisian suburbs, at the time and was riding my bike along the canal everyday into the city center. I would pass an old triporteur bicycle along the way. Something about seeing that got lodged in my brain and eventually I realized what effect it subconsciously had on me.” To this day, Tiffany finds her inspiration cruising the 13e arrondissement for her veggie bahn mi sandwich, scouring the local market for the petit pois et asperges sandwich. She also starts with what is already on her plate “It’s so true that I get my flavor inspirations from ‘normal” dishes that are eaten “properly” with a knife and fork.”
With the roaring success of Paris’ food truck brigade, Tifamade fills the growing demand for good food to-go. If trucks are a surprise sensation, how have Parisians responded to a bicycle? “I lived in New York City for almost four years, where practically all food is delivered by bike. It’s funny to me that the idea is novel here, but I think it is still a really appealing idea. In NYC it’s a solution to a speed and parking issue, and the same thing applies to Paris.”
In the meantime, before we grab a bite to eat from her pink bicycle speeding down the Parisian streets, Tiffany has generously shared her secret to the perfect sandwich. “A sandwich has to have a great spread to glue it together: flavored mayo, delicious hummus, carroty cream cheese, whatever. Delicious bread, of course (I love Gana bakery in the 11ème), and at least one crunchy item.” Take that, jambon beurre.
Tifamade’s Autumn Sandwich
Yield : 2 sandwiches
1 small pumpkin (note: there will be extra purée which you can use to make lots of other good stuff)
2-4 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Philadelphia cream cheese
1 crispy apple, thinly sliced
5 medium-sized mushrooms, baby portabellas, sautéed
5-6 shallots, thinly sliced and caramelized
fresh leafy greens, like romaine
freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch curry powder
4 slices pain de compagne, or good-quality rustic bread
1. To roast pumpkin, cut in half and scoop out seeds. Place face down on baking sheet, adding 1/4 inch water. Roast for up to 90 minutes, or until pumpkin is soft to touch. Remove from oven and cool. Once cool, scoop out flesh and reserve.
2. To make pumpkin sage spread, mix one cup reserved pumpkin in food processor with cream cheese, sage, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy.
3. Build your sandwich! (I learned from a wise woman how to avoid a soggy sandwich because her husband hates soggy sandwiches!) Layer bread with pumpkin cream cheese, apples, caramelized shallots, sauteed mushrooms, and greens. Croquez-le* and enjoy!