Home / Country Life / A history of the sandwich

A history of the sandwich

By Shelly Detwiler, RDN, LD, Blue Jean Nutrition

“Someone ate the only good thing going on in my life. Someone ate my SANDWICH!”

In one of my favorite moments from the television show Friends, nothing is better than a sandwich to Joey, Ross or even my Paul. Friends co-star Ross, named his stolen sandwich named the “Moistmaker.” Moistmaker got its name because of the gravy soaked slice of bread in the middle of this special Thanksgiving sandwich. If you haven’t seen this episode, Monica makes this unbelievable sandwich which someone stole from the fridge where Ross worked. Ross was so outraged, he continued into a meltdown that even threatened his employment. I’m sure you can find a YouTube clip for your laugh of the day. What makes the sandwich? It depends who you ask. Ask Joey from Friends…it’s all about the bread. For Ross, it’s all about the layered goodness of moistness of Thanksgiving layers including the cranberry sauce! If you ask my Paul, it’s all about the meat and cheese, although a good hot dog ranks second.

The sandwich was born in 1762. The story goes that John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich was quite the gambler. In 1762 he asked his cook to prepare a meal so that he could play one-handed. Voilá sandwiches were born. Early English sandwiches were filled with beef while Americans filled theirs with ham. One stat I saw said we Americans average about 200 sandwiches a year and that didn’t even include PB & J or any of our own creations. I would guess farmers would be one of the top industries in the consumption of sandwiches! They are the perfect lunch/dinner/snack for a farmer on the go during plant/harvest seasons.

I love to travel and try most new “local” food of the region. Sandwiches are no different. Add some pizzazz into your sandwich repertoire. Try some of these favorites from around the world.

Chip Butty is one of Great Britain’s favorites that includes white bread filled with French Fries with ketchup or brown gravy. Vada Pav is a popular street food in India that is a meatless sandwich — one battered potato ball topped with chutney and served in a mini-bun.

Cemita is a sandwich from Mexico that starts with an egg-based brioche-like bread. It’s filled with deep fried beef, white cheese, onions, herbs, salsa roja, and of course a slice of avocado.

Döner Kebab is a typical Turkish street food. This sandwich starts with the döner, being the meat of beef, chicken, lamb, or veal cooked on a vertical spit and sliced. Hugged with a pita and filled with onions, pickled cucumber, lettuce and tomatoes, it sounds like a gyro to me.

Arepas can be found in Venezuela. They are a crispy, yet chewy maize-dough flatbread filled with anything from chorizo, beef, plantains, pork, cheese and avocados. Venezuelan hot pockets?

Medianoche is a late-night staple in Cuba. It is a soft eggy bread filled with roast pork, Swiss cheese, ham, pickles, mustard, and more cheese, then warmed and pressed. It is like a grilled cheese on steroids!

Sandwiches have become more than an average slice of bread and meat. They can be eaten, hot, warm, cold or somewhere in between. They start with a slice of bread, biscuits, English muffins, bagels, flatbreads, pitas or even various specialty breads. They are filled with various toppings of meat, cheese, veggies, fillings and spreads. Let’s not forget all the sauces, dressings, aiolis, pestos and even jams that push this gastronomy item into ionic proportions. Whether you are like John Montagu, a farmer or traveling the world enjoying the sights, nothing beats a portable sandwich, eaten one handed.

Eat well and healthy,



Grilled Ham, Muenster, and Spinach Sandwiches from www.cookinglight.com
8 (3/4-ounce) slices crusty Chicago-style Italian bread (about 1/2 inch thick), toasted
8 ounces thinly sliced lower-sodium deli ham (such as Boar’s Head)
4 (1-ounce) slices reduced-sodium Muenster cheese (such as Alpine Lace)
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup mild chowchow (such as Braswell’s)
Cooking spray
Layer each of 4 bread slices with 2 ounces ham, 1 slice Muenster cheese, 1/2 cup baby spinach, 1 tablespoon chowchow, and 1 bread slice.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat sandwiches with cooking spray; add to pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned and cheese melts. Cut sandwiches in half, if desired. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich) CALORIES 315 (31% from fat); FAT 11g (sat 5.8g,mono 2.8g,poly 0.8g); IRON 2.1mg; CHOLESTEROL 53mg; CALCIUM 245mg; CARBOHYDRATE 32.4g; SODIUM 821mg; PROTEIN 20.8g; FIBER 1.7g


Rib-Eye Steak Panini at foodnetwork.com by Giada De Laurentiis


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

One 1-pound boneless rib eye steak, cut into 1/4-inch-thickslices

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1/2 cup jarred tomato-basil sauce

4 kaiser rolls, halved

1 1/3 cups arugula

4 slices sharp provolone


For the vegetables: In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onions, peppers, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the vegetables and set aside.

For the steak: In the same skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the steak and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the steak is cooked through to desired doneness, 2 to 3 minutes.

For the panini: Spoon 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce onto the bottom of each roll. Add the arugula and top with the cooked vegetables. Arrange the steak on the vegetables and place a slice of cheese on top. Place the tops on the rolls and cook in a panini maker(George foreman will work also) until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes.


Waldorf Chicken Salad at foodnetwork.com by Ellie Krieger


1 cup nonfat plain yogurt or 3/4 cups nonfat Greek-style yogurt

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced thyme

1 pound cooked, skinless chicken breast cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup seedless grapes

1/4 cup toasted, coarsely chopped walnuts

1 medium apple (about 3/4 cup)

Freshly ground black pepper

5 large leaves Romaine lettuce,

5 (8in) whole-wheat wraps


If using regular yogurt place the yogurt in a strainer lined with a paper towel. Put the strainer over a bowl and place in the refrigerator to drain and thicken for 30 minutes.

Cut chicken into ½ inch cubes. Slice grapes in ½, core and dice apples. In a small bowl, combine the thickened or Greek-style yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt and thyme until smooth. Fold in chicken, grapes, walnuts and apples. Season with pepper.

Place 1 lettuce leaf on a wrap. Spoon about 3/4 cup of the chicken filling onto wrap and roll wrap around filling.


Grilled Salmon BLT adapted from Ina Garten


2 pounds fresh salmon fillets

Good olive oil


Freshly ground pepper

6 fresh white or brioche rolls (4-inch round)

1/4 pound mesclun mix or fresh basil leaves

6-12 slices of crispy cooked bacon

6 tomato slices


1 cup good mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar

12 fresh basil leaves

3/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped scallions, (white & green parts)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 teaspoons capers, drained



For the salmon, heat coals in an outdoor grill and brush the top of the grill with oil. Rub the outside of the salmon with olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste. Grill for 5 minutes on each side, or until the salmon is almost cooked through. Remove to a plate and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

For the sauce, place the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, basil, dill, scallions, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until combined. Add the capers and pulse 2 or 3 times.

To assemble the sandwiches, slice the rolls in 1/2 crosswise. Spread a tablespoon of sauce on each cut side. On the bottom 1/2, place some mesclun salad, tomato slice, a piece of salmon and 1-2 slices of bacon. Place the top of the roll on the salmon and serve immediately.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *