Ode to a Sandwich

The sandwich is a staple we can’t imagine living without, from the school lunch box to the work lunch to the gourmet variety at high-end eateries, sandwiches are everywhere. While the concept of bread and a filling might have been around for centuries, it’s only in the 18th century that it became known as a ‘sandwich’, and for this, we have John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich to thank.

The story goes that Montague, while gambling, ordered his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread because it made the meat easier to eat – it didn’t require a knife and fork, and could be consumed with only one hand leaving the other hand free to continue playing cards. His food choice caught on and soon other members of the gentry began ordering ‘the same as Sandwich’.

Fast forward a couple of centuries and today the sandwich is a globally ubiquitous meal, the undisputed king of convenience food and fondly celebrated on 3 November every year – a date specially chosen because it also commemorates the Earl of Sandwich’s birthday.

Ask Wikipedia how many types of sandwiches there are and the length of the list will astound you – from ‘Fool’s Gold Loaf’ a single warmed, hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with one jar of creamy peanut butter, one jar of grape jelly, and a pound of bacon (!), and Jambon-beurre a French baguette with butter and ham considered France’s most popular sandwich, to our very own Gatsby which has fillings ranging from French fries, masala steak, chicken, polony, Vienna sausages, calamari, fish or chargrilled steak!

Sandwiches are so popular that there are several Guinness World Records associated with the food, from the world’s largest sandwich made by Wild Woody’s Chill and Grill in Michigan, weighing in at 2,467 kgs containing 68kg of mustard, 468 kg of corned beef, 117 kg of cheese, 240 kg of lettuce and 1,618 kg of bread; to the world’s longest sandwich made in Lebanon, measuring 735 meters and consisting of chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayonnaise.

I don’t know about you, but we suddenly have a very strong urge for chicken-mayo-pickle sandwiches! So, here’s to the humble sandwich, be sure to celebrate it on the 3rd of November, and may it continue to bring us great joy and endless tasty pleasure!