We all know a sandwich is a simple meal, typically consisting of two or more slices of bread with one or more fillings between them. Sandwiches are a widely popular type of lunch food, typically taken to work, school, or picnics to be eaten as part of a packed lunch. Although as mentioned above the sandwich is a very simple meal its history is far from simple.
The sandwich is said to be invented by 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 he ordered his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread, and because Montagu also happened to be the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, others began to order “the same as Sandwich!” 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. All though the Earl is credited with this monumental invention the fact is the lowly sandwich has been around much longer.
History of the Sandwich
The ancient Jewish sage Hillel the Elder wrapped meat from a lamb and bitter herbs between two pieces of old-fashioned soft matzah, a flat, unleavened bread, during Passover to make what is now a modern “wrap” sandwich made with flatbread.
The same Flat breads have long been used to scoop or wrap small amounts of food from the plate to the mouth throughout Western Asia and northern Africa. From Morocco to Ethiopia to India, the only difference being that the bread was baked in flat rounds, unlike the European loaf tradition.
During the Middle Ages in Europe, thick slabs of coarse and usually stale bread, called “trenchers”, were used as plates. When the rich had finished eating the food-soaked trencher was fed to a dog or to beggars at the tables of the wealthy, and eaten by less well of people waiting outside mansions of the rich.
In the Netherlands of the 17th century beef was hung from the rafters of Taverns. If you wanted to eat the inn keep would charge you for two pieces of stale bread and a knob of rancid butter, then you would, (with your own knife), strip meat from the hanging fly infested meat and place it on your bread.
The sandwich’s popularity in Spain and England increased dramatically during the 19th century, with the rise of the industrial society. It was then that the working classes had to find a way to make fast, portable, and inexpensive meals.
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 American diet, the sandwich became the same kind of popular, quick meal as was already widespread in Europe.
In India When the British first introduced the sandwich, the Indians called them double roti. This term has today become the broad term for all type of leavened bread even when not put in a sandwich arrangement.
The sandwich has even been taken to court.
In the United States, a court in Boston, Massachusetts ruled that a sandwich must include at least two slices of bread. The court went on to say that the term sandwich should not include burritos, tacos, and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans. This ruling stemmed from the question of whether a restaurant that sold burritos could move into a shopping center where another restaurant had a no-compete clause in its lease prohibiting other sandwich shops. This could only happen in America.
Examples of sandwiches.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
So the next time you eat a sandwich think of its history. I’m hungry now I think I will have a sandwich.
My thanks to Wikipedia for helping me in some of my research.