Deli Sandwich - ©

Show Must Go On: National Sandwich Day!

What with all the hoop-la attendant to the U.S. election taking place today, even the most ardent foodie may ave forgotten that November 3 is National Sandwich Day. Regardless of which political party you may adhere to, I think it’s safe to say we’d all love to join a Sandwich Party!

Turkey Dagwood Sandwich - Large - ©

A little History…

Sandwich legend and lore has it that the now ubiquitous food form was ‘invented’ by John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (in medieval times), who got tired of eating everything using just his trusty dagger and greasy bare hands, and serendipitously slapped some Meat between two pieces of Bread.

But history quietly suggests that people less grand than the Duke had been doing so for many generations before them.

Best thing since Sliced Bread

The vast majority of Sandwiches were typically made, for hundreds of years, ad hoc by the diners who craved them, until the early 19th century, when many restaurants offered them as easy-to-handle ‘to-go’ meals, which could be stuffed in a pocket or saddle bag. The Sandwich became iconic during the industrial revolution when men started going into the factories in millions, each carrying a lunch pail.

As modern travellers have explored the globe, they’ve discovered that most parts of the world have their own Sandwich traditions, featuring their own traditional fillings and their own styles of Bread.

What is a proper Sandwich?

Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of current PM Justin Trudeau, once famously said, in answer to proposed legislation covering personal, intimate acts in the privacy of one’s own home, that the government and the courts should, “stay out of the bedrooms of the nation.” I staunchly believe government should also stay out of our Kitchens. However…

Now, there are so may kinds of ‘Sandwiches’ that folks have trouble keeping them all separate. And many a debate has evolved from a simple disagreement over, “What is a sandwich and what is NOT a proper Sandwich?” And the matter was finally rendered unto the opinion of a judge in a U.S. court in Boston, Mass. in 2006.

Wikipedia relates: “The issue stemmed from the question of whether a restaurant that sold burritos could move into a shopping centre where another restaurant had a no-compete clause in its lease prohibiting other “sandwich” shops.

“The court ruled that a sandwich includes at least two slices of bread and, ‘under this definition, this court finds that the term ‘sandwich’ is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos, and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans’.” (See photo of a classic Dagwood Sandwich above, left.)

But that, technically, only relates to the U.S.

“In the UK and Australia, the term sandwich is more narrowly defined than in the U.S.: it refers usually to an item which uses sliced bread from a loaf. An item with similar fillings, but using an entire bread roll cut horizontally in half, is generally referred to as a roll, or with certain hot fillings, a burger. However, hot sliced (not ground) beef between two slices of toasted bread is referred to as a steak sandwich: it is the sliced loaf bread that distinguishes the steak sandwich from a burger.”

Got that?

But, in everyday practice, whatever you consider a Sandwich is fine with most other folks, except with the Hot Dog and Sausage on a bun fans who still lobby for their favoured Meat-and-Bread meal is, indeed a type of Sandwich. It appears that this question is also going to require a court ruling before the waters finally calm themselves over it.

Share your Sandwich traditions!

Whether you love a big, fat Meaty Cubano fresh off the Sandwich press, a traditonal Roast Beef and Mustard on White, a Reuben or a simple Corned Beef on Rye, a Korean Bahn Mi, or whatever, do it today! And revel in the knowledge that we, the food lovers of the world have dome out part to promote world peace by bringing the cultures of the globe together on at least one level, by sharing our respective notions of what ‘a Sandwich’ is with our friends in other cultures.

My take

Be sure to have Sandwiches at least once for every meal (and Snack) of the day from now until the end of the week. Don’t worry; you won’t run out of ideas! You could do much worse, to start your creative juices flowing, than by reviewing my previous post on the most popular sandwiches of our time, and some of the most elegant and indulgent ones known to the Western palate…

~ Maggie J.