What is The History Behind The Sandwich

What is The History Behind The Sandwich

The History of The Sandwich

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History of The SandwichPhiladelphia, PA - Sandwiches, They're Everywhere. If a rose by any other name would still be a rose, then a sandwich by any other name would still be a sandwich.


The History of The Sandwich

The common belief is that John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, invented this culinary delight sometime in the 18th century. While this isn't entirely accurate, it's a topic for future discussion. We'll just accept that belief at face value for our present purpose.

Sandwiches are one of the marvels of the world. I've never found anyone who doesn't like a sandwich of one sort or another. Sandwiches are found in all cultures. Sandwiches are served in fast-food restaurants, upscale restaurants, in low-scale restaurants, in greasy spoons, and of course, in our own kitchens.

They are eaten for breakfast. Have you ever seen a fast food place that doesn't have its own version of a "breakfast sandwich," which the hungry eater can quickly grab from the drive-through window and wolf down while racing to work in the morning?

Sandwiches are usually the preferred lunchtime choice for most people, and sandwiches are frequently eaten the last thing at night for those who don't like to go to bed hungry.

Modern Day Sandwiches

In this day and age, when most of us are racing from place to place all day long, the sandwich is often eaten for dinner. That way, the family no longer has to waste time sitting down together to savor a meal lovingly put together by mom.

Our supermarkets are very helpful to us in that they sell packages of sandwich meat ready to go. At one time, the sandwich was made up of the leftovers from the previous night's dinner. Now, since many of us don't actually eat meals that allow for leftovers, these pre-packaged sandwich meats have solved this problem.

While it is true that when food is placed between two pieces of bread, the result, since the 18th century, has been to call the result "a sandwich," we frequently find the sandwich called by other names. For example, we will generally just ask for a hamburger or a hotdog. Both the hamburger and the hotdog are served between two pieces of bread, but in their cases, we generally omit the word "sandwich." However, that does not preclude the fact that they are both sandwiches.

Another example of a sandwich called by another name is the "hero," which is generally some kind of meat surrounded by a loaf or half a loaf of Italian bread. My favorite hero is a meatball hero. This is generally three (or more) meatballs, squeezed between half a loaf of hard, crispy Italian bread. A spicy tomato sauce is slavered over the meatballs, then covered with mozzarella cheese and microwaved, just enough to lightly melt the cheese.

There is also the "hoagie," the "Dagwood," the "belly burner," all of which are sandwiches. The names by which the typical sandwich masquerades are almost endless, but no matter what they are called, when something is placed between two pieces of bread, it is still "a sandwich."

Everyone has their own favorite sandwich, which is generally a concoction that only they will eat. One of my brothers, for example, will make a simple sandwich consisting solely of catsup put between two pieces of white bread. Someone else I know loves to put peanut butter on white bread (only white bread), over which he puts slices of banana. My personal favorite, and get ready to be impressed, is one I generally make the day after Thanksgiving. I take two pieces of buttered white bread (only white bread), between which I squeeze slices of leftover turkey, topped with leftover stuffing, topped with leftover cranberry sauce. Then, I take the whole thing and squeeze it, bite by bite, into my dainty mouth.

When I think about it, and I don't believe that I am alone in this, I actually like the day after a big meal better than the feast day itself (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, or whenever). All the hoopla accompanying these days is past, all the cooking is done, and I am alone with the leftovers and my imagination and anything, or any combination of ingredients goes. And that is another fascination of the sandwich: anyone can be a chef and creatively produce their own food masterpieces.

So hail to the sandwich, whatever you call it, whatever you place between two pieces of bread, whenever you eat it, the sandwich is a work of art: a rose by any other name is still a rose and a sandwich, by any other name is still a sandwich. To paraphrase a well-known expression: what this world need is a perfect sandwich and as many of them as it can get.

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