The sandwich is a global culinary icon and has been around since before that Earl.
Is there any other food that comes as close to perfection as a sandwich? Everything you need to make a complete meal is contained in a sandwich and the possible combinations are endless. The humble building blocks of bread and filling lends itself naturally to many different interpretations, from as simple as peanut butter and jelly, to as extravagant as lobster. And while there are many sandwiches that are uniquely American, cultures all across the globe have their own versions. What better choice is there for a quick, affordable lunch in Denver, or anywhere, than a sandwich?
Most of us have heard the story about John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich “inventing” the dish while he was playing cards. In an effort to keep the cards clean he asked for some meat to be tucked between two slices of bread. The idea caught on and people starting ordering their meat served, “just like Sandwich.” While the name of the dish is credited to the Earl, he was certainly not the inventor of the sandwich.
It is believed that the first known dish like a sandwich was made by the ancient Jewish religious leader named Hillel the Elder, who wrapped lamb and bitter herbs in a soft matzoh flatbread. Ancient Greeks and other Mediterranean cultures also used pita bread to wrap up meats. During the Middle Ages large loaves of stale bread, called trenchers, were used to serve food in place of plates. The grease and drippings from the meat and food would soak the stale bread, which could then be eaten, or tossed to dogs or the poor and needy. Trenchers were a pre-cursor to open face sandwiches.
In 1840 sandwiches were introduced to America in the cookbook Directions for Cookery written by an English woman named Elizabeth Leslie. Her book included a recipe for ham sandwiches. When American bakeries started selling sliced bread in 1928, sandwiches became especially easy to make and their popularity grew. The affordable, portable lunch was perfect for workers and children.
Since then sandwiches have grown into an entire culinary category of their own and a big business. Clearly sandwiches are a major part of the food culture in this country and a staple item on menus at diners and high-end restaurants alike.