Sandwiched with Tastes

It is very difficult to conceive a standard bakery without a sandwich. It is easy and quick to make and it can be filling, tasty and healthy too, if the right types of breads and ingredients are used. You do not need spoon to have a sandwich, nor do you require a plate for that matter…These above-mentioned attributes of sandwich make it a quick breakfast and lunch option in today’s times.

No wonder, the potential towards the growth in popularity of sandwich is quite high in urban India, where lifestyle changes have caused much time crunch, thus necessitating the need for quick and nutritious meal without much hassles among huge multitudes of our urban population.


Making a Sandwich

As is commonly known, sandwiches can be prepared by placing vegetables, sliced cheese or meat or boiled eggs or all of them between two slices of bread. According to Wikipedia, “A sandwich is a food typically consisting of vegetables, sliced cheese or meat, placed on or between slices of bread, or more generally any dish wherein two or more pieces of bread serve as a container or wrapper for another food type.”

Of course, vegetables and meat and eggs should be in their edible forms. Instead of sliced cheese, butter can also be used or a sandwich spread. It is better to have sandwiches with condiments like sauce or mustard.

Of course, this is just one of the many basic descriptions of sandwiches. Just because sandwiches can be prepared with common vegetables like potato, onion or tomato, or with common meat like goat meat or chicken, it doesn’t mean the range of sandwiches is limited to these. Another of the plus points of sandwich is its sheer flexibility in preparation. Sandwiches can taste delightful with the application of simple and as well as exotic ingredients like broccoli and zucchini.

There can be various types of sandwiches. The bread can be grilled, raw or toasted bread; sandwich can have an awesomely wide range of ingredients. The range of sandwich can accommodate down-to-earth simplicity and exotic creativity with equal ease. Sandwiches can offer lots of potential for exercising your creativity.     

The sheer ease of making sandwich makes them being abundantly used as packed lunch, in school, work or picnics. It is also had for breakfast or even dinner. Sandwich, the universally popular fast food, was widely enjoyed in India much before the arrival of the burger-pizza culture in our shores, and its popularity in this post-modern India is only expected to rise further.


The History

The reality of modern sandwich as we know today is not that old; its beginnings can be traced to the 18th century Europe. In fact, sandwich is named after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich; an eighteenth-century English aristocrat.

The long dead Earl was quite fond of sandwich as the consumption of this handy food didn’t interfere much with his passion for gambling. It is said that John Montagu used to instruct his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread. Strictly speaking, the cook who first prepared the dish on the orders of the Earl should be credited with the making of modern sandwich, but unfortunately his historicity has been long lost in the tracts of time. However, all said and done, the legacy of sandwich dates back to ancient and medieval ages; much beyond the 18th century.

The rabbi Hillel the Elder from ancient Babylon introduced the practice of having chopped nuts,  apples, herbs, spices, and wine between flat, unleavened bread slices during as early as the 1st century BC as a Passover custom.  According to Wikipedia, he also used to wrap meat and bitter herbs between two pieces of soft matzah—flat, unleavened bread during Paasover.

The popularity of sandwich showed marked increase in Spain and England during the nineteenth century; this fast and affordable dish gained popularity among the vast swathes of working class in these two countries when the industrial revolution gained momentum. 

However, according to some food historians, John Montagu was not the inventor of sandwich but during his excursions in the Eastern Mediterranean, he saw grilled pita breads and small canapes served by the Greeks and Turks on their mezes, and replicated this innovative fast food concept to suit his gambling streak.  But to the Earl goes the credit of popularising  sandwich in England.

In the early days of modern sandwiches, beef was the meat of choice in its English version, whereas in its American version, it was ham.


A Convenience Food

Today sandwich is a convenience food of our post-modern age whose popularity is being reflected across varied classes and age groups. Sandwich is the need of our times. For example, sandwich with coffee in a café can serve as a quick lunch option for busy executives, sandwiched between business meetings. However, in India, the popularity of sandwich is primarily limited among the people in urban India  belonging to middle class and upper socio-economic strata.

This perception needs to change for sandwich can be a wonderfully nutritious option for workers and farmers too, if we use wholegrain or multigrain breads, instead of breads of maida. However, for that sandwiches across retail stores in India need to be much more affordable than they are now, and the reach of these retail stores should extend well into the rural hinterland of our country.                                    n


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