06 July 2007

The Sandwich c.1760-2007

The Sandwich, that quick and filling meal that has sustained day-trippers, office workers, students and lazy busy men and women for nearly 250 years has curled up at the corners and passed on to the Great Bin in the Sky with the news that many pre-packed sandwiches contain more salt than a Roman centurion’s bank account.

It was the 4th Earl of Sandwich who, in the 1760s, first placed some cold meat between two pieces of bread to sustain him, either - according to reliable sources - during his marathon cribbage sessions at the gaming table, or - according to less reliable sources - as he worked through the night on important government business at his desk, or even - according to sources whose reliability is on a par with national rail timetables or Jenson Button's Honda - because his wife was away and he didn’t know how to work the microwave.

Soon The Sandwich had moved on from its humble origins as gourmets adapted the basic recipe of cold meat between bread to create some of the most mouth-watering delights known to man, woman, child and dog begging at the table: including such delights as the chip butty, the dripping sandwich and the ready salted crisps double-decker.

The Sandwich had its darkest hour during World War Two when the advent of rationing which forced plucky Britons to fight the war on a diet of powdered sandwiches and (if they had the coupons) the bread sandwich – a delightful combination of bread between two slices of bread.

In the post-war years Britons were free to indulge themselves once more, experimenting with such delights as the chip and crisp sandwich and the dripping double-decker. In Scandinavia meanwhile it was indulging itself in a series of open relationships with a diverse range of fillings. Over in America, US sandwichologists began to experiment with new hybrids such as The Sub (so-called because its size and weight were crucial in its use against the Japanese navy), Peanut Butter and Jelly (the sticky peanut butter stabilising the wobbliness of the jelly) and the Club Sandwich (so-called because its size, density and those annoying plastic swords they stick through to make them hold together, made it the foodstuff of choice for busy burglars and muggers eager for a handy snack with which they could also brain their victims ).

Soon sandwiches were spreading across the globe, their wrappers boasting unlikely combinations of thai-style prawn and onion chutney, roast wildebeest and camembert or tandoori chicken and lychee, while their contents inevitably revealed a semi-identifiable meat-style substance plus some limp lettuce all drowned in cheap mayonnaise.

But despite its soaring popularity and, seemingly, hardy constitution when an investigation into the salt content of pre-packed sandwiches found that some such as the Pret a Manger All-day Breakfast, the Asda Extra Special Yorkshire Ham and Hawes Wensleydale and the Kwik-Price Sodium and Chloride Salad contained more than a third of the daily recommended intake of salt, The Sandwich’s arteries began to harden and it was left on the shelf for the last time.

The Sandwich will be buried at Newport Pagnell Service Station where mourners will try to eat piles of mayonnaise-slathered crayfish and rocket, ham and cheese and pastrami and gherkin without the aid of their traditional - slightly-soggy - bread-wrapping.


Lord Straf-Dresden said...

I'm shamelessly lifting this piece holus bolus and using it with my Min tomorrow.

Lord Straf-Dresden said...

Boys, Blogpower is trying to decide some vital issues at this moment but only 7 or 33 members have commented. Clearly, that's no basis for a decision. Could you see spare a little time making your point of view known on the issues currently being discussed at Blogpower? James

R.M. said...

Before you follow the esoteric requests of his Lordship would you kindly note that in the context offered 'jelly' should be replaced by 'jello.' That done you can now turn to the Blog Power politics

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Once again I am falling over laughing, Dodo! Especially like the Scandiavian "open relationship" sandwiches! Here all the delis will make you a fresh sandwich - no butter / marg, mind - and they will cut the meat/cheese to the exact size of the freshly delivered bread. So the panino is alive and well in Sicily!