Posts Tagged With: Middle Ages

307/365: National Sandwich Day

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!

National Sandwich Day

Categories: Sandwich | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

229/365: National Vanilla Custard Day

I’d be pudding you on if I said we hadn’t celebrated today’s food holiday, in one form or another, a bunch of times already this year (and also used the word “pudding” in place of “putting” in at least one previous post). August 17 is National Custard Day!

Custard, a cooked mixture of milk and egg yolks, has been around since the Middle Ages. The name derives from the French word croustade, meaning “crust of a tart.” Early custards could be either sweet or savory, though nowadays sweet, pudding-like custards are the norm. And why do I insist we’ve celebrated custard many times already? Because it forms the base for a wide variety of dishes, including tartscrème brûlée, and quiche. And we can’t forget chocolate custard. Been there, done that. And that, and that, and that. But we haven’t actually had just plain ol’ custard yet, so in that regard, this holiday is a new one.

We are in Ely, Nevada today for a family gathering. A close friend of Tara’s family passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, and we wanted to be here to honor his memory. Now, we always figured we’d celebrate a few of this year’s food holidays in Ely, because we are planning a trip here for New Year’s, which means we’ll actually complete the challenge here. But obviously that is months away yet, and this visit was never in the cards. Ely is hardly the hotbed of civilization; I doubt there’s anywhere in town that even sells vanilla custard. And with everybody pretty busy today, making vanilla custard is hardly a top priority. So again, we had to plan ahead, and made a batch before we left, which we packed carefully in a cooler filled with ice and hauled 840 miles across three states. We are now enjoying it from the comfort of a Motel 6 in downtown Ely. Definitely one of the trickier holidays to celebrate, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The photo below is NOT our custard. As I am writing this entry the evening before we leave, the custard is still setting up, and that will take hours. This is what I’m HOPING our custard eventually looks like. As a completist, I’ll probably come back here and add a photo of ours, when we’re back home. I’m bringing my laptop along, but probably won’t have much of a chance to use it.

National Vanilla Custard Day

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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