Before we get down to some good sandwich ideas, what is a sandwich anyway? In English, the verb sandwich, means something between two other things. The noun sandwich, usually means a two slices of bread with a filling, however there are open sandwiches where the filling is not sandwiched between bread, but laid on top and there are hundreds of food items that could be regarded as sandwiches even if not by the definition.
Though sandwiches of one type or another have been around forever, the name sandwich given to meat tucked between two pieces of bread is named after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who asked his valet for something to eat that meant he could continue to play cards without getting his hands greasy. In the UK sandwiches are usually made with two slices of bread with a cold filling and burgers are not usually called sandwiches, however in the US they are.
To confuse things further, and could totally invalidate this post, in 2001, a court in Worcester, MA ruled that a burrito is not a sandwich in a fight between Panera bread and Qdoba Mexican Grill. Panera bread attempted to block burritos from being sold in a particular shopping centre in Shrewsbury because they claimed they had exclusive rights to sell sandwiches according to their lease. The judge in ruled in favour of Qdoba because Webster’s dictionary defined a sandwich is made from two slices of bread and therefore a burrito was not a sandwich. However we will ignore this ruling.
Different sandwich ideas from around the world
Around the world most cultures have developed, usually independently, a portable snack food made from their indigenous bread and some sort of filling. Some people might not call them a sandwich, but by all intents and purposes there are, and by my definition, a sandwich is a food delivery device, i.e. some sort of filling packaged in, on or between bread, or a bread like food, usually as a snack, lunch or other light meal.
- The great tortilla (Spanish for ‘little cake’) is a flatbread made from wheat or corn, and is a major staple of Mexico and some other central American countries. There seems to be as many names for the food that it is used for a there are ways to fold it. There are burritos, chalupas, tacos, quesadillas, flauta (taquito), gorditas, sincronizadas, tostadas and many more usually filled with beans, meat, cheese and tomatoes.
- The hamburger, America’s great gift to the world. One of the few sandwiches to be known world-wide. The burger was popularised in the US, by German immigrants from Hamburg, hence the name, who flavoured shredded low-grade beef with spices creating a Hamburg Steak. In the US, mini versions of burgers are known as sliders.
- A Croque-monsieur is a French grilled sandwich made from two slices of bread usually filled with ham and cheese, Gruyère or Emmental, and sometimes incorporating Béchamel sauce. A Croque madame is a variation, served with fried egg on top. An American variation of the Croque-monsieur is the Monte Cristo.
- Smørrebrød or Danish open sandwich are a major part of Danish food culture. Meats, fish and various vegetables are exquisitely laid on top of rugbrød (Danish Rye Bread) and usually eaten with a fork and knife.
- Piadina is a thin flat-bread, from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It is made with white flour, lard (or olive oil), salt and water, cooked and then served with a cheeses, cold meat and vegetables.
- Shawarma, Doner Kebab, Souvlaki or Gyros are all very similar types of sandwiches from the Eastern end of the Mediterranean that contain grilled meat in a flat pita bread usually with vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber, onions, lettuce, eggplant, parsley, etc.
I’ll keep adding to this list over time as well as there are hundreds of other types food than could be regarded as sandwiches such as Welsh Rarebit, Cheese on toast, Molletes, crostini, bruschetta, paninis, Bánh mì, pan-bagnat, the jammie piece, chip butties, bacon sarnies, Peking Duck pancakes, bocadillos, hot dogs and even pizza, since it shares many of the same characteristics as a grilled cheese sandwich.
Also in our recipes and reviews section we’ll be talking about various classic representations of sandwiches such as the BLT, egg salad, the ploughman’s, coronation chicken, the tomato, burgers from hole-in-the-wall-joints (my favourite) and the Reuben Sandwich, Bill’s Obsession.