The humble sandwiches are one the most popular food item around the world, enjoyed by millions of people. Sandwich, which is often touted as an ‘international’ dish turns 260 this year. Observed annually on 3 November, the World Sandwich Day celebrates the legacy of John Montagu (1729 – 1792), the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Earlier, sandwich was considered a gourmet dish, often enjoyed by the rich and the wealthy. However, now, sandwich is considered a tasty and filling meal that is eaten by everyone. The ingredients that are ‘hidden’ between two bread slices could be changed to suit the tastes and preferences of the individuals. In the beginning, meats were mostly used as the filling. However, now, you could choose your sandwich filling from myriad varieties of ingredients and condiments. Besides various kinds of meats, eggs, veggies and cheese are also used as sandwich fillings or toppings.
John Montagu was the 4th Earl of Kent in the Sandwich province. He was a lover of card games and often spent long hours playing at the local taverns. It is said that in 1962, when he was on a gaming spree, the Lord had ordered his valet to bring him some meat tucked between two pieces of bread. It was easy eating like this, without the hassle of using a knife and fork. Besides, he could continue playing without getting the cards greasy. His friends too found this easier and ordered their servants to serve them meat just as Sandwich (the Lord) had done. This food item soon gained popularity around the world, with sandwiches available even in local flavours and ingredients.
The 250th birthday of sandwich was grandly celebrated in England, in 2012. It was the British Sandwich Association that organised grand events to celebrate the most popular food item in the world. Even the Montagu family took part in the celebrations, that were held in honour of their famous ancestor. Sandwich making contests were conducted at Kent town as part of the celebrations. Besides, the iconic scene when the Lord asked his valet to prepare the world’s first sandwich too were recreated.
The town of Sandwich
The town which has been made famous by Lord John Montagu is now a popular tourist destination. It was in 1660 that that the Montagu family was granted an Earldom. Sir Edward Montagu was an admiral in the British Royal Navy. King Charles II had granted the admiral the title of Earl after the latter had saved the king from an accident and helped him regain his throne. Lord Edward had chosen the name of Sandwich, which was then a famous port in Britain, for the province that came under his Earldom. He, thus, became the first Earl of Sandwich.
Nutritionists say that the health benefits of sandwich depend on the fillings or the ingredients that are used to make the sandwich. It could be as healthy as a salad if the sandwich is prepared using low fat ingredients that are loaded with nutrients. The choice of bread too is important in case you wish to enjoy a healthy sandwich. Sandwiches with vegetable fillings are nutritious. It is better to use less amount of cheese and butter in sandwich. Chicken and eggs could be used in moderation. Instead of tinned fish, it is better to use freshly cooked fish for that extra dose of omega 3 fatty acids.
Sandwiches become carriers of salt, sugar and fat if too much cheese, butter and mayonnaise are used as bases or spreads. Interestingly, sandwiches could be custom made by filling them with healthier ingredients. The fibres in the vegetables ensure gut health and eases digestion. Instead of the white breads that are made using refined flour, healthier versions made using whole wheat could used to make sandwiches.
Besides being low-fat, whole-wheat sandwiches are loaded with fibres and nutrients. Similarly, try using small bread slices instead of bigger slices that have more carbohydrates. Lettuce and broccoli that contain nitrates could be used as fillings and they add the perfect crunch too. Instead of butter, cheese or mayonnaise, nut butters made using peanuts, almonds or cashews could be spread on the breads. Avocado puree too is a tastier and healthier alternative. The body would gain up to 400 – 500 extra calories, from a sandwich that is loaded with fat, salt and sugar.