A cook slathers melted butter on a crusty baguette, tops it with Swiss cheese and thinly sliced ham, hits it with a dab of grainy mustard, adds another slice of bread, turns up the griddle, then stands back and lets it sizzle. It's lunchtime in America. The deli sandwich — a longtime center of lunchtime gravity — becomes more than the sum of its parts when taken to the melting point. “When you add heat, it makes the sandwich sexy,” says Scott Berlin, executive chef at UC Santa Cruz. “It's ...

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