If there’s an example of a truly global food, not only in terms of its popularity but also availability and convenience, then the humble sandwich — and its different variations — is sure to top the menu charts. The item (poor thing, it will never be called a gourmet dish) is now 250 years old. The story goes that the then Earl of Sandwich, a lazy, rich man, asked for beef served between slices of bread so that he could eat while continuing to play cards. Later his friends wanted “to have the same as Sandwich”, and that is how it name got around.
Even though it is a humble dish, it still would not like to be associated with its distant American relative, the burger. In fact, the British Sandwich Association even defines the properties of a sandwich: 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... So now you know that even among common and garden foods, there is a Brahmanical order of things.
With the Brits colonising the world, the item became a popular one among most palates and different kinds of fillings and sauces gave it variety and much more respectability. In India, it came to be known as ‘double-roti’; in South Africa, it is popular as Gatsby; the Scandinavians though have done away with two slices of bread and so their very popular smørrebrød is a piece of bread topped with well, everything possible. And then there is the king of sandwich, the club sandwich, that stacked up monster. The great thing about sandwich: you can do anything to it, use any filling and sauces, eat it hot or cold, but still in the end, it remains a sandwich. As we wind up this editorial, here’s a teaser for readers: where would you get the cheapest sandwich in the world? Not in Sandwich, Britain, but in the tandoori chicken country of Delhi! More bite for the buck clearly.