Remember way back in early 2020, when Paris Hilton trolled all of America with a 15-minute video of herself making her "famous lasagna"? Throughout the last year, I've often found myself thinking about Hilton's attempts to grate a ball of fresh mozzarella while wearing fingerless, black silk gloves and recycling her phrase "all these spoons are brutal" while trying to throw together a meal in my own kitchen. But the days of that Cooking with Paris segment living in my brain rent-free are over, because it was served an eviction notice today by a new "cooking" clip by Britney Spears that is a mere minute-and-a-half long. In the real world, I'm all for eviction moratoriums, but in this case, footage of Spears making what she calls "the meanest sandwich known to mankind" is just too delightful to share space in my mind with literally anything else.
Last night, Spears posted a video on Instagram that starts with her striking a pose with which her avid followers are, by now, very familiar. Standing with her gaze slightly tilted up to meet the camera, Spears has her thumbs tucked into the top of her low-rise jeans, and her toned tummy bare below a cropped tee. Perhaps to signify that this video is different than most (it's a cooking video, after all), she used a sepia filter, reminiscent of an old-timey silent movie. Not that this level of creative art direction should come as any surprise — I mean, haven't you seen this woman's paintings?
"Okay guys, so I'm here in my kitchen today, and I'm going to make my first delicacy sandwich," she says quickly and matter-of-factly, as she sways back and forth with the excitement that only making a sandwich elicits. Spears then goes on to explain that the sandwich she'll be making was inspired by one she used to regularly eat at a deli in New York 15 years ago.
As someone who currently resides in New York and is a big fan of the city's deli culture, I was excited to hear which shop the pop star had long held a torch for. Perhaps I could even head there for lunch and try out her favorite sandwich for myself. Turns out, that's not an option. Why? Because Britney's favorite sandwich is from Schlotzsky's Deli, a fast-casual sandwich chain that started in Austin, TX, and can now mainly be found in the Midwest and South; it did have one New York City location, but that has been closed for at least eight years. While it is a bit of a shock that Spears chose to dine on sandwiches from Schlotzsky's while in a city known for its many local delicatessens, I was actually even more thrilled by this revelation than I would have been if she had shouted out Katz's or Barney Greengrass. Having grown up in suburban Tennessee, I am very familiar with this chain, which is now owned by an Atlanta, GA-based company, and actually used to eat there after my mom picked me up from kindergarten — around the same time that ...Baby One More Time was released and I, like so many others, first fell in love with Britney. What serendipity!
Clearly, Spears also thinks divine intervention is at work when it comes to Schlotzky's, because, in her video, she recalls that, "15 years ago" when she "used to go to a place in New York City called Schlotzsky's Deli Sandwiches. It was literally God to me." And, now, "15 years later, I'm still in search of a sandwich that tastes just like that. So this morning, I decided to get up and try to create a sandwich just like that for the summer." You have to admire the commitment! Honestly, having a single dish so delicious that it sticks with you for years is all too relatable, even if, sadly, I can't say that I remember a single sandwich I had at Schlotzsky's back in the day. But maybe I just never had the same sandwich Spears has? Because, truly, it does seem memorable — especially the way she walks viewers through its creation. First, Spears begins with "artisan ciabatta," which she refers to as her "favorite type of bread." Then, she shows her next ingredients: a small bowl filled with goat cheese and pecans. Though Spears initially mistakes the pecans as almonds, don't worry, she corrects herself in the video's caption: "PS I meant pecans not almonds !!!!" After showing off the partially misidentified mixture, we get to my favorite part of the clip: her one-handed attempt at slicing a single pecan. When I tell you I would pay to fly to Las Vegas to see Spears recreate this seven seconds on a stage, I am not exaggerating. I've never seen such a big knife handled so precisely.
Next, she places a small bowl of shredded chicken and turkey beside the goat cheese and almonds — I mean pecans. Zooming out, Spears introduces four slices of avocado that are covered in morsels of goat cheese, bits of chopped pecan, and chunks of shredded meat. It's not the way I'm used to seeing sliced veggies presented in instructional cooking videos, but it's certainly how ingredients end up looking on my own cutting board. Britney, she's just like us. After tilting the camera toward a bowl of lettuce, Spears presents the final ingredient, which she thinks is the most unlikely addition to the sandwich. Still, according to her, it makes the dish. "I also have, it's like, pear. It's sheared pear," she says. "You would think that that would be really odd — it looks like fish but it's not. It's very, very sweet, and it adds something — like a really, really different taste to the sandwich." She's such a gourmand! And, the only reason I'd think it's odd is because I've never heard of "sheared pear" before. But now I can't wait to try it.
Finally, the pop star presents a "tiny" sandwich comprising all the previously mentioned ingredients — ciabatta, goat cheese,
almonds pecans, shredded chicken and turkey, avocado, lettuce, and pear — on a plate alongside exactly four red grapes, two slices of pineapple, one slice of cantaloupe, and one sliver of strawberry. "A little goes a long way, so you don't need a huge sandwich for the summertime," she says. "Something kind of small and a little French will kind of do for me." Spears ends the video by slicing the already minuscule sandwich in half and saying, "Voilà, it's a beautiful little sandwich." It isn't beautiful at all, actually, but it’s attainable and appetizing and that's what makes it so appealing.
Despite the fact that a video like this is absolute gold for fast-casual restaurant chains, which usually love being sassy — and often embarrassing — on social media, Schlotzsky's has yet to publicly acknowledge Spears' video. I reached out to the chain and haven't received a response. Many Spears fans have also tried to get Schlotzsky's attention by flooding the chain's most recent Instagram post, which was shared 30 minutes ago, with comments like "Here for Britney," "Please send Britney a sandwich," and "Britney eats sandwiches here so I'll eat sandwiches here, too." Some of her fans are even calling for the chain to give the pop star an endorsement deal, but Spears doesn't seem fussed with Schlotzsky's lack of response.
In fact, it seems like Spears — who clearly thought Schlotsky's had closed forever — actually already got more out of sharing the video than she ever expected. Earlier today, less than 24-hours after her original video, Spears posted a photo of the ocean at sunset on Instagram, and captioned it, "THERE IS A GOD," followed by the sunset, prayer hands, cloud, and church emojis. "Good news @schlotzskys STILL EXISTS folks …. Life will be ok now!!!" And, honestly, after watching this video and frantically Googling the words "sheared pears," I agree: Life will indeed be ok.