You can relax if your wallet has only a few dollars in it today: it doesn’t take a lot of bread in order to enjoy today’s food holiday. Two slices, to be exact. November 3 is National Sandwich Day!
Fittingly, this holiday is celebrated on the birthday of John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich. According to legend, this 18th century English aristocrat was an avid gambler who didn’t want to waste precious cribbage-playing time by putting down his cards to eat. So he instructed his servants to bring him meat tucked between two slices of bread, allowing him to eat his meal with one hand, and preventing his cards from getting greasy. Impressed with the portability and convenience of this meal, others began ordering “the same as Sandwich,” and the name stuck. While sandwiches got their name from the Earl, he was not the actual inventor; it is believed that Hillel the Elder, an ancient Jewish sage who passed away in 10 A.D., first took lamb and herbs and stuffed them between two slices of matzah during Passover to create the first true sandwich. During the Middle Ages, thick slices of bread – often stale – were used as plates for meat and other foods. After the meal, the food-soaked scraps of bread (known as “trenchers”) were fed to dogs. Or beggars. As lowly a practice as this was, it laid the groundwork for what we refer to today as open-faced sandwiches. Later still, in the 17th century, beef hanging from the rafters of taverns in the Netherlands was sliced into strips and served atop buttered bread. Here’s a great article that takes a look at the 50 greatest sandwiches of all time.
Narrowing down what type of sandwich to eat today was tricky, given the wide variety of available options. I just happened to be running to a little market/restaurant in Portland to pick something up, and they had a deli counter with a handful of sandwiches available. My favorite type of sandwich is tuna, so I ordered theirs; it contained Oregon coast tuna, Mama Lil’s bread & butter pickles, dijon mustard, and lettuce on Roman Candle whole wheat bread. Definitely a step up from the canned tuna I’m used to making. It hit the spot for a perfect lunch today!