Allegedly it all started in 1762 when John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich and prolific gambler, called for his manservant to bring him cuts of beef between slices of bread so he could continue to play cards uninterrupted by the inconvenience of meal times. This led to his fellow gamblers requesting 'the same as Sandwich' and this snack of all trades was well and truly born.
The British Sandwich Association (yes, there is one!) defines a sandwich as 'any form of bread with a filling, generally assembled cold – to include traditional wedge sandwiches, as well as filled rolls, baguettes, pitta, bloomers, wraps, bagels and the like, but not burgers and other products assembled and consumed hot. Hot eating sandwiches are also included.'
In reality, there is practically nothing that cannot be stuck between two bits of bread, from savoury to sweet to the downright weird (Elvis had a penchant for peanut butter, bacon and banana!). Growing up none too affluent in the early 1960's I remember being as horrified and disgusted by my friend's sugar sandwich as she was by my dripping one. Is there any better hangover cure than a bacon sandwich (well, maybe a bacon and egg sandwich), or anything more comforting than hot chips melting the butter on the bread of your classic chip butty? And without the invention of the sandwich, would Branston Pickle ever have even been thought of?
In 2010 Michelin starred chef, Martin Blunos created the world's most expensive sandwich. Consisting of Cheddar cheese blended with rare white truffles, dressed with 100 year old balsamic vinegar nestled inside sourdough bread sprinkled with real gold dust, this little gem would set you back a few pennies over £110 – not one for a picnic on the beach then!
But with the Queen's Jubilee looming, street parties will see trestle tables groaning under the weight of this versatile and portable delicacy. Make sure your table offers the best of traditional British sandwiches for the occasion.
Coronation Chicken is a must. Cooked chicken, blended with herbs, mayo and curry powder is rumoured to have first seen the light of day at the Queen's Coronation celebrations in 1953, hence the name, although earlier records reference Jubilee Chicken, created for the Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935 to an almost identical recipe. Either way, the Royal connection is clear.
For old fashioned British tradition, it is essential to include salmon and cucumber, and egg and cress – both of which HAVE to be served crustless, cut into dainty triangles!
Cheese and pickle on the other hand are almost compulsory to serve as 'door stops.' Serve them ready made, complete with the aforementioned Branston, or set out chunks of crusty bread, a mix of British cheeses and a bowl of pickled onions for the ultimate DIY Ploughmans sandwich.
Doff your cap to the 1977 Silver Jubilee with a classic, prawn and Marie Rose sauce with salad (prawn cocktail in a sandwich!) and demonstrate your sophisticated side with cream cheese and smoked salmon on a bagel.
Don't forget the kids... tuna and sweetcorn with a dash of tomato sauce, good old fashioned beef paste and simple but timeless cheese triangles will all have added appeal if you invest in a few animal shaped cutters, or sandwich between one slice of brown and one of white bread.
When catering for a crowd, the trick is to keep it simple, use the freshest bread possible, and include a mix of brown, white and bread rolls. This is not the time to experiment with homemade feta and roasted red onions dressed in a balsamic glaze, or home smoked duck with a trio of peppers... too much fiddling and a risky strategy! Stick to tried and trusted and dress up your plates with cherry tomatoes, crisp lettuce leaves and an abundance of mini Union Jack flags.
So use this British Sandwich Week to appreciate the simplicity yet versatility of the Great British Sandwich and get some practice in for the Jubilee celebrations!
Of course, if your intention is to push the boat out or you simply don't have the time or inclination to cater yourself, Croydon caterers, Buffets by Design could be the answer. Taking a well deserved third place nationally in thebestof's 14 Days of Love Campaign, this local company can offer an extensive range of mouth watering buffet menus for all occasions at competitive prices.