Time to cel­e­brate hum­ble but de­li­cious sand­wiches

Chicken is our cur­rent top in­gre­di­ent for popular snack

Rutherglen Reformer - - 28 - Ad­ver­tis­ing fea­ture

With around 12 bil­lion eaten in the UK ev­ery year, it can truly be said the hum­ble sand­wich is Bri­tain’s favourite form of food.

So it is not sur­pris­ing it now has an an­nual week set aside to cel­e­brate it.

This week, from Mon­day, May 11, to Sun­day, May 17, is of­fi­cially Bri­tish Sand­wich Week and, there­fore the per­fect time to take a look at its his­tory, and what a long his­tory that is.

The sand­wich us­ing two slices of bread as we know it in Bri­tain to­day, can ar­guably be traced to 18th cen­tury Europe.

It is said to be named af­ter John Mon­tagu (1718-92), the fourth Earl of Sand­wich, who started a craze for eat­ing beef be­tween two slices of toast.

It is said that he or­dered his valet to bring him meat tucked be­tween two pieces of bread to stop the grease get­ting on his fin­gers when he played cards or crib­bage, and that oth­ers be­gan to or­der “the same as Sand­wich”.

How­ever, the story of the sand­wich dates thou­sands of years fur­ther back.

One an­cient Jewish sage is said to have wrapped lamp and bit­ter herbs be­tween two pieces of un­leav­ened bread— dur­ing Passover

Flat breads of only slightly vary­ing kinds have long been used to scoop or wrap small amounts of food en route from plat­ter to mouth through­out West­ern Asia and north­ern Africa. From Morocco to Ethiopia to In­dia, bread is baked in flat rounds, con­trast­ing with the Euro­pean loaf tra­di­tion.

Dur­ing the Mid­dle Ages in Europe, thick slabs of coarse and usu­ally stale bread, called “trenchers”, were used as plates. Af­ter a meal, the food-soaked trencher was fed to a dog or to beg­gars at the ta­bles of the wealthy, and eaten by din­ers in more mod­est cir­cum­stances.

The im­me­di­ate culi­nary pre­cur­sor with a di­rect con­nec­tion to the English sand­wich was to be found in the Nether­lands of the 17th cen­tury, where the nat­u­ral­ist John Ray ob­served that in the tav­erns beef hung from the rafters “which they cut into thin slices and eat with bread and but­ter lay­ing the slices upon the but­ter” — ex­plana­tory spec­i­fi­ca­tions that re­veal the Dutch open-faced sand­wich, was as yet un­fa­mil­iar in Eng­land.

Ini­tially per­ceived as food that men shared while gam­ing and drink­ing at night, the sand­wich slowly be­gan ap­pear­ing in po­lite so­ci­ety as a late- night meal among the aris­toc­racy. The sand­wich’s pop­u­lar­ity in Bri­tain in­creased dramatically dur­ing the 19th cen­tury when the rise of industrial so­ci­ety and the work­ing classes made fast, por­ta­ble and in­ex­pen­sive meals es­sen­tial.

In a re­cent sur­vey by the Bri­tish Sand­wich As­so­ci­a­tion, who scru­ti­nised sand­wich buy­ing data from su­per­mar­kets, it was re­vealed chicken is now our favourite fill­ing with four of the top nine sand­wiches bought hav­ing chicken as their main fill­ing in­gre­di­ent.

Our very favourite, it would seem, is chicken and ba­con.

Brits con­sume 43,000 tonnes of the chicken in sand­wiches each year. This is two and a half times more than the sec­ond most im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent – cheese.

The sec­ond most-loved fill­ing is the 1980s clas­sic of the prawn sand­wich fol­lowed by ba­con, let­tuce and tomato, which was the na­tion’s favourite last year but has fallen two places.

Plain chicken sand­wiches come in at fourth place, with plough­man’s sand­wiches – a mix of cheese, salad and pickle – tak­ing fifth. The first recorded use of the word ‘Sand­wich’ ( with a cap­i­tal S), was in 1762 by Ed­ward Gib­bon writ­ing of the Beef Steak Club in Lon­don

The only novel by Jane Austen con­tain­ing the word ‘sand­wich’ is Mans­field Park

Around 12 bil­lion sand­wiches are eaten ev­ery year in the UK

The world’s largest sand­wich cur­rently weighs 5,440 pounds

In 2008, an at­tempt in Iran to beat the record for the world’s big­gest sand­wich failed when the impatient crowd ate it be­fore it was mea­sured

The ear­li­est ref­er­ence to a ‘ba­con sand­wich’ listed in the Ox­ford English Dic­tio­nary was by Ge­orge Or­well in 1931

The record for cre­at­ing the most ex­pen­sive sand­wich ever made is claimed by chef Tom Bridge whose Lan­caster Cheese Sand­wich which was sold on eBay in 2006 for £345

The Sand­wich Is­lands (now Hawaii) were also named af­ter the 4th Earl of Sand­wich in 1778

Sand­wich is also a town in Kent, although its name has noth­ing to do with sand­wiches.

Top food 12 bil­lion sand­wiches are eaten in the UK ev­ery year

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