Today is the day to celebrate the ever-popular sandwich (It’s also World Cliché Day, but I won’t be able to top last year’s post on that, so I’m sticking with sandwiches). This culinary delight has been around in some form for centuries, but got its modern name in the 18th century. The credit is given to English aristocrat John Mantagu, who happened to also be the 4th Earl of Sandwich, a city in the shire of Kent in England. Legend says that he ordered his meat to be delivered between two slices of bread to avoid greasy fingers while playing cards. This became all the rage and people starting ordering food “the same as Sandwich” until it was, thankfully, shortened to just being called a sandwich. I learned this little tidbit years ago when I was performing in a strange little stage show at the local fair. In the show, we actually sang about various odd facts, which by the way, is just as ridiculous as it sounds, and this is the only one I can even remember.
But beyond singing about sandwiches, I mostly remember just how much I enjoyed eating various versions while growing up. It seems a sandwich gets far more complex as we age. When I was a little kid, I would receive a little piece of ham on a roll. Later, this would include a bit of mustard, and eventually, a slice of lettuce. By the time I was a teenager, the toppings had increased to the point it was like having all of the ingredients of a multi-course dinner shoved between two poor slices of bread. These culinary treats also increased in size. Here in America, where big is considered better, the “submarine” sandwich was born, so named for both the shape of the sandwich and the size you would become if you ate too many of them. In Philadelphia these were called Hoagies, a morphing of the original and more apt name of “Hoggies.”
Despite the attempts at sandwich innovation and gross enlargement during modern times, my favorite is still a simple grilled cheese sandwich. The day to celebrate grilled cheese always comes the day before my birthday which is perfect timing! Of course, a little bowl of tomato soup is the perfect complement to this one, which also has a delicious simplicity. So, rather than burden my bread and my palette with an unnecessary number of ingredients, I prefer to keep things simple. When in France, this shifts to tomato and mozzarella on a baguette. Just three key ingredients (with a little basil, of course) to make me happy. Apologies to subs and hoagies everywhere. But no matter how you prefer them, the sandwich is definitely the best invention ever, until of course, they finally got around to inventing sliced bread.
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Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Quinacridone Gold, Carmine, Red Orange, Phthalo. Green Light, Olive Green, Burnt Sienna, and Ultramarine Deep. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.