For the majority of my life, I have avoided chicken salad like the plague. I wouldn't say that I am a picky eater by any means, but there are certain food combinations that I am admittedly leery about, and fruit and nuts with any sort of meat is one of them.
The first time I tried chicken salad it was a begrudging back-up when my favorite sandwich for your dollar shop, Potbelly, was out of tuna. They suggested their chicken salad and after learning that there was no fruit in it I decided to give it a try.
For something as simple as chicken, mayo, celery, and seasoning (pictured below), it was pretty fantastic and is now my usual anytime I visit a Potbelly (on wheat, e-z lettuce, onion, and LOTS of pickles. Most of the employees knows my order).
There was actually a point in time where I would crave this sandwich almost every day and because of that would eat there more than once or twice a week for a little over a month. Though I have taken on a much stricter frugal lifestyle recently, if I ever treat myself to lunch at work, you better believe my happy self is marching over to Potbelly. As great of a place as this sandwich has in my heart, I have recently ventured out of my safety zone and fallen just as in love on the other side as well.
My boyfriend has a food habit and style that can best be described as constantly hopping from one "kick" ton another. When the Chicken Flat bread sandwich is in season, he eats Taco Bell for 2 months like it's a religion (5'11", 150 lbs, very decently ripped, I don't know how he does it. Men). When they opened the Qdoba in our neighborhood, I almost lost my love for Tex-Mex.
Currently, we eat Panera 2-3 times/weekend. This kick is my favorite because anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE sandwiches. I had only been to a Panera once before, so I sampled around their menu the first couple of times we went there. Really craving chicken salad, and not being able to convince my boyfriend to go to Potbelly, I decided to give their Napa Almond Chicken Salad sandwich a try. Chicken breast, mayo, grapes, and almonds, I was really being adventurous when I placed my order, and I was anxious to get my dinner (pictured at top).
When I got my food I immediately dove right in instead of assessing the salad and accounting for distribution of fruit and types within. There was savory chicken of the perfect texture sinking between my teeth, red grapes bursting with sweet juice, almonds adding a slight, nutty crunch, and mayo to bind it all together. This was a sweet and savory match made in heaven that was bursting in the celebration hall that was my mouth.
The two sandwiches each share a very special place in my heart and really can't even be competitively craved because they are so different and fantastic in their own right. Lesson learned: never be afraid to challenge your palette because you just might end up with a new favorite. What do you like in your chicken salad? Have you tried either of these sandwiches?
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