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Hôtel Herman Chef Marc-Alexandre Mercier on Trashy Noël Nostalgia

Bread sandwiches and crème de menthe.

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Marc-Alexandre Mercier talks family tradition
Marc-Alexandre Mercier talks family tradition
Randall Brodeur

In "How the experts do Christmas," The Globe and Mail asks nine chefs from Vancouver to St. John's to share some yuletude food nostalgia.

Marc-Alexandre Mercier, of Mile End's Hôtel Herman, offers this anecdote about childhood Christmas traditions in the town of Saint-Cyrille-de-l'Islet in Quebec's Chaudière-Appalaches region.

There are two things that mean Christmastime. The first, I don’t really like it, but all my family likes it. We call it pain sandwich – literally, bread sandwich – but I don’t know if there’s an official name for it. It’s a whole loaf of white bread, sliced on the long side and then layered with classical sandwich toppings: a ham layer, an egg layer, a cabbage layer, and so on. Then they use Cheez Whiz to cover the whole thing, like an icing. In my whole life, I’ve never, ever even tried it. But it’s comforting.

The chef also recalls his father's proclivity for crème de menthe come holiday time: "It’s something so cheap, and it’s something he would never drink otherwise, but around Christmas he always buys a bottle and drinks it. I don’t even know if he likes it."

Hôtel Herman

5171 boul. Saint-Laurent, Montréal, QC H2T 1R9 514-278-7000