A sandwich is a food item consisting of one or more types of food, such as vegetables, sliced cheese or meat, placed on or between slices of bread, or more generally any dish wherein two or more pieces of bread serve as a container or wrapper for some other food. The sandwich was originally a portable food item or finger food which began to be popular in the Western World. Today sandwiches in various versions are found worldwide.
Sandwiches are a popular type of lunch food, taken to work, school, or picnics to be eaten as part of a packed lunch. The bread can be used plain, or it can be coated with one or more condiments such as mayonnaise or mustard to enhance the flavours and texture. As well as being homemade, sandwiches are also widely sold in restaurants and cafes, and are sometimes served hot as well as cold. There are both savoury sandwiches, such as deli meat sandwiches, and sweet sandwiches, such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The sandwich is considered to be the namesake of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, because of the claim that he was the eponymous inventor of this food combination. The Wall Street Journal has described it as Britain’s “biggest contribution to gastronomy”.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A SANDWICH?
The burrito question may well be determined, but the definition of a sandwich leaves plenty of wiggle room for interpretation. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a sandwich comprises “two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between,” but then continues to include “one slice of bread covered with food.” This would indicate that hotdogs, bruscetta, and even biscuits and gravy are sandwiches.
Let’s take a look at the difference in sandwich conservatives’ and liberals’ opinions on the matter. In the right corner, we have the “two pieces of bread with filling, no variation” group. This excludes commonly accepted sandwich derivatives like stuffed pitas. On a technicality, they also must include the quesadilla unless the decision is made to restrict the sandwich definition to include only leavened bread. A self-described Sandwich Orthodox friend explained to me that any food which requires cooking before sandwiching is not a sandwich, even a hamburger–“If it can’t be made in the woods, it isn’t a sandwich.” What about grilled cheese, dude?
On the other side, there are those who, like Ian Chillag of NPR’s Sandwich Monday, will accept any “protein wrapped in carb.” A close inspection tells us this would be sweeping enough to qualify sushi, fried cheese and those bizarre egg-and-cheese toaster strudel as sandwiches, in addition to any burrito, taco, this thing or Hot Pocket, while excluding traditional sandwiches (like jelly or veggie). How is a hotdog a sandwich if a veggie sub isn’t?
If your definition relies on portability or hand-to-mouth eatability, then out go the Dagwood, Merriam-Webster’s second definition and anything messy enough to require a fork. Likewise, any number of clearly non-sandwich foods could be included here.
THE STORY OF THE SANDWICH
Would you believe that Americans eat more than 300 million sandwiches a day? That’s right, every day we consume about as many sandwiches as we have people to eat them. And why not? The sandwich might be the perfect food: portable, open to any interpretation and as simple or as elaborate as the mood permits. The sandwich has a long history, but it hasn’t always been as embraced in America as it is now. It’s hard to imagine, but the sandwich was once thought of as a symbol of a colonial past that most patriotic Americans wanted to forget.
The sandwich as we know it was popularized in England in 1762 by John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Legend has it, and most food historians agree, that Montagu had a substantial gambling problem that led him to spend hours on end at the card table. During a particularly long binge, he asked the house cook to bring him something he could eat without getting up from his seat, and the sandwich was born. Montagu enjoyed his meat and bread so much that he ate it constantly, and as the concoction grew popular in London society circles it also took on the Earl’s name.
Of course, John Montagu (or rather, his nameless cook) was hardly the first person to think of putting fillings between slices of bread. In fact, we know exactly where Montagu first got the idea for his creation. Montagu traveled abroad to the Mediterranean, where Turkish and Greek mezze platters were served. Dips, cheeses, and meats were all “sandwiched” between and on layers of bread. In all likelihood Montagu took inspiration from these when he sat at that card table.
Montagu’s creation took off immediately. Just a few months later, a man named Edward Gibbon mentioned the sandwich by name in a diary entry, writing that he’d seen “twenty or thirty of the first men of the kingdom” in a restaurant eating them. By the Revolutionary War, the sandwich was well established in England. You would expect American colonists to have taken to the sandwich as well, but there’s no early written record of them in the new country at all, until a sandwich recipe didn’t appear in an American cookbook until 1815.
Why would this creation go unsung in the nation for so long? It seems early American cooks tended to avoid culinary trends from their former ruling state. And the name “sandwich” itself comes from the British peerage system, something that most Americans wanted to forget. Once memory faded and the sandwich appeared, the most popular version wasn’t ham or turkey, but tongue!
Of course, most Americans today wouldn’t dream of a eating a tongue sandwich. But that’s ok, since we’ve come up with some pretty excellent sandwich ideas since then. That iconic New Orleans sandwich, the Po’ Boy, came about in the Great Depression during a streetcar worker strike. Two brothers, once streetcar operators themselves, owned a sandwich shop nearby, and promised to feed any down-on-his-luck striking worker for free. When a hungry striker walked into the shop, the clerks would yell, “Here comes another po’ boy,” and the name stuck. That school lunch staple, the Sloppy Joe, came about at around the same time, the innovation of a short order diner cooked named – you guessed it – Joe. And the Reuben, that decidedly un-Kosher treat of corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut, appeared not in a New York City deli but in Omaha, Nebraska. Named after one of the participants in a weekly poker game that took place in a hotel, the creation really took off when the hotel owner featured it on the dinner menu. It later won a nationwide recipe contest, and the rest is history.
BENEFITS OF VEGETARIAN SANDWICHES
A vegetarian sandwich is a type of sandwich in which the traditional ingredients such as meat are replaced with vegetables.
A vegetarian diet is healthful, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases, such as lower blood cholesterol level, lower risk of heart disease, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and hypertension, as well as contributing to weight loss.
When speaking about vegetarian sandwiches, roasted red peppers, eggplant, or mushrooms are great vegetarian ingredients. Cold vegetarian sandwiches made with lettuce, tomatoes or cucumbers are another popular option. Condiments such as mustard or mayonnaise may be added. You can add cheese or balsamic vinegar salad dressing to make the vegetarian sandwich even more flavourful. A sandwich like this made correctly can be a healthy and filling alternative to meat.
Vegetables such as eggplant and mushrooms are the most common ingredients in a vegetarian sandwich, since they are filling enough to replace traditional meat ingredients. Roasted or grilled vegetables are much healthier than those vegetables that are fried in oil.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, and bean sprouts are some of the most popular choices for this type of vegetarian sandwich. Getting a little creative when making vegetarian sandwiches can make it easier to discover new flavour combinations that are delicious.
You can even add some fruits, like apples for example to these sandwiches as well; they add a bit of sweetness and are very well combined with cheeses such as goat cheese.
The soy often found in a vegetarian sandwich includes a lot of protein, which can be beneficial for people on vegetarian diets who might struggle to get enough of this essential nutrient.
Tofu is a great alternative for meat in many dishes because it is high in protein.
Dill is often used to season vegetable sandwiches. Grilled or roasted peppers are a healthy and colourful addition to a vegetarian sandwich.
5 WAYS TO ADD FIBER TO YOUR SANDWICH
Adding fiber to your sandwich is good for your health, and you may actually enjoy the taste of the sandwich more than you usually do. Besides the health benefits, eating a sandwich that is high in fiber will help you control your appetite, so you will not have to snack between meals. If you include the right kind of fiber in your sandwich, you can even reduce the total number of calories it contains, which will help you to keep your weight under control.
- Whole Wheat Bread
Two slices of whole wheat bread contain roughly 6 grams of fiber. Depending on the reference source, adults should consume a minimum of 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber each day, so two slices of wheat bread are a good start. Check the label of the bread before you buy a loaf, and compare it to other brands the store offers. Some brands have a few more calories in their wheat bread, which is fine as long as you stay within your total calorie goal.
- Sliced Carrots
Four sticks of carrots have nearly 2 grams of fiber. If you do not like the way your sandwich tastes with carrots added, try eating them on the side. You can also cut the carrot in half, chop one half into small sticks to use for your sandwich, and then eat the other half of the carrot later for a snack. If you prefer, cut the carrots into smaller pieces that are easier to eat with a sandwich.
Depending on the size of the tomato you use for your sandwich, it could contain as much as 2 grams of fiber. Add a slice or two to your sandwich, to increase your total fiber intake. Remember to save the unused portion of the tomato for the next day. If you do not like the way your sandwich tastes with the tomato, try adding some pepper or other spices. Since tomatoes can become soggy, store your sandwich in a refrigerator if you are not going to eat it right away.
Red sweet peppers have roughly 1 gram of fiber. Cooked green sweet peppers have about the same amount of fiber as red peppers. Clean the pepper with water, then slice it into thin strips to use on your sandwich. Remove any seeds as you cut the pepper. Try both green and red peppers, to see which one you like best with the type of cold cuts you use on your sandwich.
- BRUSSELS SPROUTS
Cooked Brussels sprouts have approximately 3 grams of fiber. Chop the sprouts into a small size to use on your sandwich. You may have to experiment with different sandwich meats, to find the kind of meat that tastes good to you with the addition of Brussels sprouts. Remember to store the sandwich in a plastic container if you are taking it to work to eat for lunch.