Sandwiches, or as my dad would say, “sammiches” are a lunchtime staple as we all know and love. What is interesting is the history behind the sandwich and where we have taken them in modern times. According to the website What’sCookingAmerica.com, Linda Stradley writes of the first account of a sandwich being eaten as:
“1st Century B.C. -The first recorded sandwich was by the famous rabbi, Hillel the Elder, who lived during the 1st century B.C. He started the Passover custom of sandwiching a mixture of chopped nuts, apples, spices, and wine between two matzohs to eat with bitter herbs. The filling between the matzohs served as a reminder of the suffering of the Jews before their deliverance from Egypt and represented the mortar used by the Jews in their forced labor of constructing Egyptian buildings. Because he was the first known person to do this, and because of his influence and stature in Palestinian Judaism, this practice was added to the Seder and the Hillel Sandwich was named after him.”
That’s pretty amazing when you think about the how long ago that was and where we are today. Still enjoying our meals between two pieces of bread. Linda also points out the first written use of the word sandwich as being:
“1762 – The first written record of the word “sandwich” appeared in Edward Gibbons (1737-1794), English author, scholar, and historian, journal on November 24, 1762. Gibbon recorded his surprise at seeing a score or two of the noblest and wealthiest in the land, seated in a noisy coffee-room, at little tables covered by small napkins, supping off cold meat or sandwiches, and finishing with strong punch and confused politics.
“I dined at the Cocoa Tree….That respectable body affords every evening a sight truly English. Twenty or thirty of the first men in the kingdom….supping at little tables….upon a bit of cold meat, or a Sandwich.”
The Cocoa Tree, located at Pall Mall and St. James’s Street, was a fashionable gentlemen’s gaming club in London in the 18th century. Gaming houses in London were for the chosen few, where men of common tastes and of one class might meet together. In 1746 the Cocoa-tree Club became the haunt of politicians, particularly Tories, who met there under the guise of taking chocolate in order to hatch political plots. After 1750, only the more modest establishments survived, frequented by the public at large. The most select chocolate houses became private clubs, strictly limited to gentlemen from the ranks of high society.”
The humble sandwich remains and still is growing in popularity as new combinations are invented and tested by chefs and cooks and moms and kids and more. I think it is because there are endless options we will not tire of the sandwich. No longer is lunchmeat and cheese the standard. In fact, fruits and veggies on sandwiches are really common. I love the creativity of the sandwich above. Not only are the flavors of beet, arugula, goat cheese and avocado amazing but they are beautiful colors. I especially love the contrast of the green and purple. And the dark pumpernickel bread sets off the ingredients wonderfully. I think the randomness of the arugula looks very playful and fun and makes the food look inviting and fresh.
What’s your favorite sandwich? A childhood favorite or a new creation? Adventurous or standard? On a tortilla? Gluten free bread? A Bagel?