We posted a refresher on Soup a few days back. What better follow-up to that than an update on Sandwiches? I think it’s fair to say that Sandwiches are a part of all our lives – at least in the Western World. But, in recent times, restaurateurs have blurred the definition of this simple joy…
The Oxford Dictionary defines a sandwich as: “An item of food consisting of two pieces of bread with a filling between them, eaten as a light meal.”
That’s the way most of us think of it.
But, in their desperation to create new, novel and exciting treats, restaurateurs have lately blurred the distinction between real Sandwiches and other hand-held foods, such as Wraps, Tacos, Lebanese Shawarma, Korean Banh Mi, Greek Gyros and even Hamburgers and Hot Dogs, and their close relatives. (I’m thinking Sloppy Joe’s, Hoagies and Subs, for instance…)
There was even a recent post on a food blog I watch that debated whether a Hot Dog was really a Sandwich, or a creature of its own. I sided with the group which contended that, since the Frankfurter ‘filing’ of a Dog is technically surrounded by only one piece of bread, the Hot Dog is not a Sandwich. On the other hand, a Hamburger is, technically, a sandwich, even though most of us now a days think of a whole class of Sandwiches on round, flat rolls as ‘Burgers’, distinct from mainstream Sandwiches. See what I mean, about the blurring?
So where does that leave classic Sandwiches?
Time to go retro and celebrate the greatness of the classic Sandwiches… How man of these have you enjoyed?
- Peanut Butter and Jam: The classic of classics… Peanut Butter and Fruit Jam or Jelly spread on opposing slices of White Bread, slapped together and eaten with Milk or Coffee (depending on your age and preference). Variances from the standard recipe include Peanut Butter and Lettuce on Toast (said to be a fool-proof hangover cure) and Peanut Butter and Banana, a 70s invention that still enjoys a respectable following. (And don’t forget: Elvis once flew his private jet from Graceland to Denver for a Peanut Butter, Jelly and Bacon Sandwich!)
- Classic Ham and Cheese: What it says, usually but not always accompanied by a schmear of Mustard and a leaf of Lettuce.
- Toasted Cheese: Classically, Processed (American) Cheese melted between two slices of White Bread, usually prepared by heating in a medium frying pan until the Bread is nicely toasted. Butter the outside of the bread for a succulent, golden finish! Often served with a side of Ketchup for dipping.
- Toasted Western: An American Style Omelet with diced Veggies and Ham, folded and served on Toasted White Bread. A great breakfast waker-upper!
- Chicken Salad: Finely Chopped Chicken Salad on White Brad topped with a leaf of Lettuce. A saucy, yummy delight! The formula also works for Egg Salad, Chicken Salad, Ham Salad and other Mayo-mixed classics. Egg and Chicken are favourite luncheon treats.
- Sliced Meat: Like the Salads, this is more a family or style of Sandwich than a specific recipe. Any roast meat or Cold Cut can be sliced thin and eaten between two pieces of Bread of your choice, anytime. Adorn the Meat with your choice of condiments and add Lettuce and/or a Tomato Slice if desired.
Then, there are these fancier classics:
- The Reuben: Corned Beef, Swiss cheese, Sauerkraut, and Thousand Island Dressing, grilled between slices of Rye Bread. A true American Classic.
- The Club: An eclectic collection of Sliced Cooked Chicken, Fried Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and Mayonnaise.Usually Served on White Toast and cut into triangular quarters, held together with cocktail picks.
- The Monte Cristo: An American adaptation of the Croque Monsieur (see below). Simply a Ham and Cheese Sandwich, but dipped in Egg and French Toasted until the Cheese melts and the Egg is golden brown.
- The Croque Monsieur: A French classic, featuring a generous portion of thinly-sliced Boiled or Baked Ham between two slices of Toasted Brioche or other soft-crusted Bread. Add a Fried Egg on top and you have a Croque Madame!
- The Muffalata:The New Orleans Classic consists of layers of thinly-sliced spicy Cold Cuts alternated with layers of Olive Salad, on Crusty Bread. Often made up as a whole loaf and served in slices.
- The Cubano: This classic Cuban Sandwich is an ancient tradition in its homeland, but has only recently taken North America by storm, after Cuban expats introduced it in Miami a couple of decades ago! A hearty handful featuring Ham, Roast Pork, Salami, Pickles, Swiss Cheese and Mustard. Some Cubans I’ve met consider it their national dish’!
And there are many more…
Our ‘fancy sandwich’ category just scratches the surface of the ‘international sandwich’ tradition. Go exploring and treat yourself to a new ‘Real Sandwich’ experience today!
And don’t forget to team your Sammy up with a bowl of home made soup!
~ Maggie J.