What is a sandwich?

08Jan09

I know it might sound studpid but I just thought I’d go right back to basics and research what a sandwich is and how it came about!

A sandwich is a food item made of two or more slices of bread with one or more layers of a filling. The bread can be used as is, or it can be coated with butter, oil, mustard or other condiments to enhance flavor and texture.

The history of a sandwich..
An early form of sandwich is attributed to the ancient Jewish sage Hillel the Elder, who is said to have wrapped meat from the Paschal lamb and bitter herbs in a matzo (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 as much the harbingers of open-face sandwichesas they were of disposable dishware. The immediate cultural precursor with a direct connection to the English sandwich was to be found in seventeenth-century Holland, 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. The first written usage of the English word appeared in Edward Gibbon’s journal, in longhand, referring to “bits of cold meat” as a ‘Sandwich’. It was named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, an 18th-century English aristocrat, although he was neither the inventor nor sustainer of the food. It is said that Lord Sandwich was fond of this form of food because it allowed him to continue playing cards, particularly cribbage, while eating without getting his cards greasy from eating meat with his bare hands. The rumour in its familiar form appeared in Pierre-Jean Grosley’s Londres (Neichatel, 1770), translated as A Tour to London 1772;Grosley’s impressions had been formed during a year in London, 1765. The sober alternative is provided by Sandwich’s biographer, N. A. M. Rodger, who suggests Sandwich’s commitments to the navy, to politics and the arts mean the first sandwich was more likely to have been consumed at his desk. If it was 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 supper meal. By the early 20th century, as bread became a staple of the American diet, the sandwich became the same kind of popular, quick meal as was widespread in the Mediterranean.

What are they used for?
Sandwiches are commonly carried to work, school or picnics to be eaten as the midday meal as part of a packed lunch. They are generally made of a combination of vegetables, meat, cheese, and/or a variety of sauces. They are widely sold in restaurants and cafes. They are popular throughout the world The term sandwich is occasionally used (informally) in reference to open-faced “sandwiches”; these normally consist of a single slice of bread topped with meat, vegetables, and/or various condiments. Strictly speaking, an open-faced “sandwich” is not a sandwich, as it has a single slice of bread instead of two, and thus has toppings instead of a filling.The open-faced “sandwich” also has a history differing from that of the true sandwich, having originated between the 6th and 16th centuries, with stale slices of bread used as plates called “Trenchers” (whereas its relative, the modern sandwich traces its roots to the Earl of Sandwich instead). Legally, In the United States the ruling in the case of Panera Bread Co. v. Qdoba Mexican Grill established that a sandwich must legally include at least two slices of bread. An open-faced sandwich does not satisfy this condition. Sandwich may also be used as a verb meaning to position something between two things.

Information taken from Wikipedia.

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