A Great Sandwich

Between open face, submarines, hoagies, pinwheels and more, the sandwich category can quickly get confusing! Let’s take a closer look.

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It’s hard to imagine a world without sandwiches. Conveniently portable and open to interpretation, they are consumed all over the world. In fact, the global sandwich industry is worth well over a billion dollars!

HISTORY

It is thought that the first form of the sandwich was discovered in the Mediterranean over fifteen thousand years ago, where pita bread was stuffed with fillings like roasted goat. The sandwich we know today, however, was made popular in 18th century England by John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, hence the name. Most food historians agree that Montagu had a gambling problem and loved that the ease of eating sandwiches meant that he could remain at the card table.

It was in 1927, however, that the bread-slicing machine was invented by an American. The availability of pre-sliced bread was a game-changer and led to an explosion in the popularity of sandwiches, quickly becoming the default lunch item all over the world.

WHAT MAKES A SANDWICH?

In general, there are four parts to any sandwich: bread, a spread (i.e. mayonnaise), a filling and a garnish, such as lettuce or pickles. From there, sandwiches can be as humble or extravagant as you wish, piled high or piled low. We tend to think of sandwiches served cold, but there are many popular warm sandwiches such as the grilled cheese and tuna melt. One of the best tips for an incredible sandwich is to start with good bread since this is your foundation.  Quality fillings are also very important.

Sandwiches are a great way to use up leftovers as well, including leftover sauces like pesto and salsa verde. In fact, one sandwich that has become a phenomenon in certain parts of the world like Ireland, is the “holiday leftovers” or “Thanksgiving” sandwich, which is exactly what it sounds like. This sandwich recipe calls for leftover turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and even ham in some cases. It might sound puzzling, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  

Sandwiches can be as humble or extravagant as you wish, piled high or piled low.

OPEN FACE, PINWHEEL & FINGER SANDWICHES

An open face sandwich is a slice of fresh bread topped with a spread, cold cuts, vegetables, or all of the above. This type of sandwich is common in Europe and, in North America, an open faced sandwich usually refers to a slice of bread topped with warm roasted meat and gravy. 

An open face sandwich is a slice of fresh bread topped with a spread, cold cuts, vegetables, or all of the above.

Finger sandwiches, also known as ‘tea sandwiches’ should be small and easy to handle. Typically eaten with afternoon or ‘high’ tea in the United Kingdom, they are meant to be consumed in one or two bites. Finger sandwiches are very dainty, with minimal fillings, such as cucumber and cream cheese, and are often crustless. Think of them as the most sophisticated sandwich of the bunch. Depending on the affair, they might even be cut into decorative shapes using a cookie cutter! Another type of sandwich commonly served at elegant affairs is the pinwheel, small crustless sandwiches curled up in a roll with minimal fillings. 

SANDWICH VS. BURGER

The main difference between a sandwich and a burger is that filings are placed between two pieces of sliced bread to make a sandwich, whereas fillings are placed between a sliced bun in order to make a burger. It is confusing, though, since dictionaries define a hamburger as a form of sandwich. There are also many sandwiches that are served on buns, such as the Sloppy Joe, consisting of a saucy, ground beef filling. Overall, all hamburgers are considered sandwiches, but not all sandwiches are considered hamburgers.

Overall, all hamburgers are considered sandwiches, but not all sandwiches are considered hamburgers.

PHILLY CHEESESTEAK

This sandwich originated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is traditionally made with thinly sliced ribeye steak, caramelized onion, and provolone cheese. The Philly Cheesesteak is a popular fast food item in the United States and has been modified in other regions to include bell peppers and mushrooms. Hoagies are the bread used for cheesesteaks. These long, split rolls, might be called subs depending on where you live. A common replacement for ribeye is flank steak, which is lean but very tender. 

MEATBALL SUB

The meatball sub or sandwich is an Italian-American invention, of which there are many variations. The most common style consists of a long Italian-style roll filled with meatballs, red sauce, and a mild cheese such as mozzarella or provolone. Basil and onions make complimentary additions but, one thing is for sure, every meatball sandwich should be accompanied by a cold glass of beer.

It’s safe to say that virtually every country in the world has put their unique stamp on the sandwich. The torta is a Mexican sandwich consisting of a combination of meats, cheeses and beans served on a bun. Paninis are sandwiches made with Italian bread, served grilled or toasted, and the list goes on.