Although the idea of some kind of bread or bread-like substance lying under, or enclosing another food, can be traced back to the middle ages and beyond, the modern sandwich as we know it, with its enigmatic name, is a more recent affair. Its etymology hails from the English county of Kent and the habits of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, an 18th-century aristocrat. Legend has it that, in search of a way to eat without ceasing his much-loved games of cribbage and sullying his cards with grease, he began to order from his valet meat inserted between two pieces of bread. The idea caught on and others began to order "the same as Sandwich!". Sandwich's biographer, N. A. M. Rodger, contests the gambling angle: with the Earl's work commitments in mind, he argues that the eating would much more likely have been at his work desk. Whether tending to Britannia's rule of the waves or indulging his gambling addiction, the idea and name spread quickly. Not long after the Earl's first order, the sandwich appears by name in the diary entry of a man named Edward Gibbon who saw “twenty or thirty of the first men of the kingdom” eating them in a restaurant. Although the sandwich became well established in England, the uptake in the US was a little slow (perhaps in opposition to their former rulers), a sandwich recipe not appearing in an American cookbook until 1815. By 1909 it was a different story, as the wonderfully no-nonsense Up-To-Date Sandwich Book featured here can attest to, a popularity no doubt linked to what made the food form soar amongst the working classes of the British industrial revolution — it was fast, portable, and cheap. As the subtitle betrays, no less than four hundred different sandwiches are detailed in the book. Enjoy!
August 25, 2016