Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Is it really true that the sandwich was invented

by the Earl of Sandwich so that he could eat and go on gambling? I doubt it. I suspect that the sandwich has been around as long as there has been bread. The format may have been slightly different but even I would be willing to gamble that the Egyptians and others stuffed some sort of filling into their flat bread occasionally.
Making loaves and loaves of bread into sandwiches is not something I really care for but I occasionally need to do it. People have meetings. People need supper. Supper is not something they would normally eat but, at a meeting, they need supper. I make sandwiches. I make sandwiches because, they tell me, they like my sandwiches. They do seem to eat them.
I do not make the bread for those sandwiches. Our bread machine only makes one loaf at a time. It takes a minimum of four hours in the machine to make a loaf of bread. You must leave the machine to cool down between loaves. I have never made more than a loaf a day in the machine. Sandwich construction takes more bread than that.
I have a problem with the ordinary sandwich. To put a smear of butter or other spread on two opposing pieces of bread and a meagre piece of cheese or whatever takes your fancy in between does not seem to me to be a sandwich. It is food. It will satisfy a certain hunger but it lacks the creativity of a real sandwich. I look at the white squares of plastic bread piled high in the sort of establishment which claims to sell sandwiches. I then look at the resulting sandwich, four white triangles with a barely visible filling. That is not a sandwich. It is not even an apology for a sandwich. My nephews regard it as four mouthfuls of food, a mere starter and not a very substantial one at that.
A loaf of bread will make around ten rounds of such sandwich or it will make ten rounds of something rather more interesting. A cheese sandwich does not have to be a rubbery square peeled off a block of other rubbery squares does it? Why? Just to make the sandwich look tidy? What has tidiness to do with taste? I know that good food should look attractive but it should also taste good.
Sandwich construction requires interesting inner ingredients. There need to enough of them to actually be able to taste them.
I know someone who has had nothing but cheese and pickle sandwiches all his life. He refuses to have any other sort. He has a lot of the inner ingredients.
When we had a disaster with the banana crop in Queensland and bananas were horrendously expensive one child went to school with just bread. His only sandwich is banana but he has an entire banana as the inner ingredient. (He takes a chunk of cheese and a carrot too but they never go in the sandwich.)
Australians do not seem to eat what Americans call "peanut butter and jelly" sandwiches. Everyone I know regards the peanut side of things to be a savoury, not a sweet.
The experiment with "Cheesymite" - a mixture of processed cheese and Vegemite (Marmite to the British) was not well received among those I know. Cheese in the middle of bread spread with Vegemite is a rather happier option, add a little tomato and some are happier still.
But there are other things, cream cheese, walnuts, cranberries, chopped dried apricot, flaked almond, avocado, asparagus, baby spinach, curried egg instead of mayonnaise egg, a sprinking of dukkah, taramaslata, grated carrot, parsley - and many more.
A sandwich is an art form. It should be appreciated as such.


Anonymous said...

You make me feel hungry!

Old Kitty said...

There's a french recipe for a sundried tomato baguette - I can't remember what it's called at the moment - but the idea is that you prepare the baguette - cut in two, drizzled in oil, tomatoes, cheese etc- wrap it tightly in clingfilm, leave overnight and take it with you as you climb a mountain or something outdoorsy like that. Sounds ever so tasty! Take care