4th August 2010, on the menu today...
BLT, sausage sarnie, bacon and/or egg buttie, ham sandwich, cheese and pickle sandwich and so it goes on. Indeed, when it comes to sticking things between two slices of bread we Brits rule the roost and, with my review of bread the other day, I thought it very apt to discuss this wonderful lunchtime creation.
- The ultimate convenience food. They may pack small as they are crammed in to millions of lunch boxes every day by Brits but they always play big...indeed there is nothing quite as delicious and simple as the sandwich. With a bit of egg or meat along with some greenery as a filling, sandwiches can constitute an almost perfect meal with bread for carbs, the filling for protein and your five-a-day and butter for fat. Moreover, if you use wholewheat bread then they can prove very filling and keep you from snacking (as much!) on less-healthy options later on.
- The filling. Whether you are vegetarian or, like me, of the carnivorous sort, there is a sandwich for you. At the end of the day, the filling is what a sandwich is all about and a subject of endless fun with the possibilities only limited by your imagination.
- Layered sandwiches! The indulgent allure of the layered sandwich was one I often succumbed to when growing up. Spurred on by the likes of Scooby Doo where Shaggy and Scooby constructed mountain-high sandwiches, I soon found out that constructing layered sandwiches is a highly skilled artform that requires a delicate touch and an appreciation for weight distribution and frictional forces...see how educational food can be!
As for actually eating the things, I often wondered about any techniques I could employ to eat the sandwiches as they were but, knwowing this was never going to happen, I would deconstruct it in to a week's worth of double-decker sandwiches and then work out how on earth I was going to explain to my mother where all the bread had gone.
- That stink! Cold egg sandwiches are gorgeous to eat but, for everyone else around you, they simply stink. On numerous occasions, I can remember people opening innocent-looking lunchboxes only for that eggy smell to waft downwind in my direction. Admittedly, I have been guilty of this a few times and, upon seeing the reactions of those around me in the eating area, quickly but quietly got rid of the evidence and, if anyone asked, blamed the guy with the beans! So the TGBD lesson here: either position you and your lunchbox in a well-fumigated area, escape outside or, if I really don't like someone, cosy up nice and close to them!
- The mighty bacon sandwich. Famous for converting many vegetarians
back to their caniverous ways, the bacon buttie is an incredible concoction of tastes, smells and textures that requires almost superhuman willpower to resist. Indeed, it was one of the first things as a child that I leant to make and, for a while, it was hard far me to see any improvements that could be made on this classic but my good old dad quickly showed me the way as he placed an egg on top of the bacon. A revelation to me, this re-vamped bacon buttie delivered all the flavours I knew and loved as well as delightfully goey egg - a definite heaven-on-earth experience. Needless to say, I have so many memories attached to these things from the plethora of outdoor events attended over the years where food vans made a tidy profit selling them; to the cafe next door to my father's office that I regularly visited for them; to lunchtimes at home where we would all tuck in to our butties and watch yellow egg go everywhere...as you see, they have featured throughout my life as they will of for many other Brits and, I bet now, they will continue to do so for many, many decades to come.
- Crisp Sandwiches. This was a favourite as, whenever I was bored by plain sandwiches, all I had to do was cram in as many crisps as humanely possible and the resulting sandwich would be absolutely delicious. The crisps lent their particular flavours and textures to the ensemble and, naturally to delight of any child, they made an almighty sound and mess as numerous crisps were simultaneously crunched and sent flying in all directions.
Looking at a few varieties:
Fish finger sandwich: When you thought fish fingers couldn't get any better comes along bread, butter and ketchup. Biting in to one of these things is incredible as your teeth go through soft, buttery bread before encountering sweet, runny tomato ketchup and finally crispy batter and soft, flaky cod. In summary, if you haven't ever had one of these, do yourself a favour and make one ASAP.
- BLT: A healthy-ish bacon buttie as lettuce and tomato are paired up with bacon and the brown sauce is omitted. The crispy lettuce (often iceberg) and juicing tomato deliver interesting new textures to the usual mix and, as you contribute to your five-a-day, you can feel a bit less guilty about tucking in to one.
- Bacon (and egg) sandwich: The bacon buttie delivers soft, buttery bread; salty, tender bacon with an occasional crunch from that much prized bacon fat; and sweet, spicy notes of brown sauce - lovely jubbly. Adding an egg to the mix (fried or pouched for the more health conscious) makes for an even more delicious eating experience albeit a messy one at the egg bursts mid-way through eating and gooey yellow egg yolk goes everywhere to the yells of "clear the area!".
- Sausage sandwich: Bacon or sausage...an almost impossible choice for some but, for me, sausages have the edge. The biggest thing for me is the variety of sausages you can get with everything from your standard high-percentage meaty
offering to those flavoured with all manner of ingredients - a few favourites of mine being apple, caramelised onion, black pudding and leek. As for sausage sandwiches, they are simply made by taking hot or cold sausages, slicing said sausages in half lengthways and placing them between two slices of well-buttered bread along with the customary dollops of brown sauce. The subsequent taste and texture experience being one of soft, buttery bread and moist, succulent meat all enrobed in spicy, sweet brown sauce. Delicious!
- Egg sandwich: I've already talked about the stink but, that aside, these are just gorgeous as smooth textures of egg white combine with rich egg yolk to deliver unique texture and taste experiences.
- Ham sandwich: This brings back memories of my childhood when I would get infuriated by the lack of access to plain sandwiches in shops. Being a fussy, highly carniverous child I didn't want
mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato etc in my sandwich; I just wanted
some meat and butter. Often my best bet was a ham sandwich becasue it seemed to have the least amount of offending ingredients
and they were relatively easy to remove. In any case, it's a winner meaty
ham combines with soft, buttery bread.
- Chicken and redcurrant jelly sandwich: Redcurrant jelly transforms leftover chicken in to the most delightfully of sandwich-eating experiences. Cold meats are gorgeous and succulent meaty flakes of roast chicken are no different but the addition of sweet, sticky redcurrant jelly seems to take chicken to another level as its relatively bland flavour is given the good old sugar shock treatment.
History (courtesy of the Wikipedia entry):
Bread has been eaten with any meat or vegetables since Neolithic times. For example, the ancient Jewish sage Hillel the Elder is said to have placed meat from the Paschal lamb and bitter herbs between two pieces of matzah (or flat, unleavened bread) during Passover. During the Middle Ages, thick slabs of coarse and usually stale bread, called "trenchers", were used as plates. After a meal, the food-soaked trencher was fed to a dog or to beggars, or eaten by the diner. Trenchers were the precursors of open-face sandwiches. The immediate cultural precursor with a direct connection to the English sandwich was to be found in the Netherlands of the 17th century, where the naturalist John Ray observed that in the taverns beef hung from the rafters "which they cut into thin slices and eat with bread and butter laying the slices upon the butter"— explanatory specifications that reveal the Dutch belegde broodje was as yet unfamiliar in England.
Initially perceived as food men shared while gaming and drinking at night, the sandwich slowly began appearing in polite society as a late-night meal among the aristocracy. The sandwich's popularity in Spain and England increased dramatically during the 19th century, when the rise of an industrial society and the working classes made fast, portable, and inexpensive meals essential.
It was at the same time that the sandwich finally began to appear outside of Europe. In the United States, the sandwich was first promoted as an elaborate meal at supper. By the early 20th century, as bread became a staple of the United States diet, the sandwich became the same kind of popular, quick meal as was widespread in the Mediterranean.
Discover Sandwich in Kent
The British Sandwich Association
Sandwiches Online (from the British Sandwich Association)
We Love Sandwiches
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