Hardly a day goes by when alert and faithful readers of this column make themselves a sandwich. Some may even do it three or four times day. Every time I have one I am reminded of how I met my third wife. While on vacation in Jamaica I was strolling down a white, sandy beach when I came across a beautiful Voodoo priestess practicing an incantation in an isolated cay by the sea. Our eyes met, we fell in love and the next thing I knew we were married. It all happened so fast, I don’t know if she put a spell on me or what. All I know is she was a Sand Witch.
But getting back to the point. Back in the eighteenth-century a fellow named John Montagu, who went by the title the Earl of Sandwich, gathered around with his poker buddies on Tuesday nights at the castle. After many hours the Earl would order the servants to throw some meat and cheese between two slices of bread so he could eat with one hand while tossing chips in to the pot with his other hand. And the sandwich was born.
The sandwich actually was around way back before then. Scriptures write of an ancient Hebrew opening a kosher deli back when Moses was messing around with the Red Sea.
Today the sandwich has become a part of our culture. Be it a simple meal on the run or the classic staple of the school cafeteria lunchbox. It is a satisfying meal at any time of the day, and they have come a long way, evolving into sometimes extravagant assemblies of meat, cheese, condiments, veggies or whatever. As long as it’s between two slices of bread.
From the Sloppy Joe to the grilled cheese to the hamburger, they come in all shapes and sizes.
The classic Club Sandwich, invented in the late nineteenth-century at the Saratoga Club in upstate New York. The Reuben created in a New York deli by Arthur Reuben in 1941. The Philly Cheese Steak invented in 1930 and the Hero, popularized by a deli near the navy submarine base in Groton, Connecticut.
The Po’ Boy of New Orleans or the Pilgrim, a day after Thanksgiving concoction with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce between two slices of bread. And don’t forget the famous Dagwood sandwich consisting of anything you can find in the fridge, often layered on four or five slices of bread.
Then there is the classic Muffaletta, an Italian sandwich that somehow found its way to New Orleans. Not a submarine sandwich, but layered deli meat and cheese topped with an olive salad often known as a tapenade. Serve this hot or cold.
1 Cup Green Olives
1 Cup Kalamata Olives
½ Cup Olive Oil
¼ Cup Fresh Parsley
2 Tbs. Fresh Oregano
1 Clove Garlic, Peeled
Juice of ½ Lemon
1 Round Ciabatta Loaf, Sliced in Half
1 Cup Shredded Lettuce
4 Oz. Mortadella Ham
4 Oz. Genoa Salami
4 Oz. Mozzarella Cheese, Sliced
Throw the olives, olive oil, herbs, garlic and juice in a food processor. Pulse until smooth but a bit chunky.
Assemble meats and cheese on bread, top with lettuce, tomato and olive spread. Serve.
Ah, the memories of being married to that Sand Witch. At least they are better than the memories of my second wife. She was a mail-order bride from Eastern Europe. I used to call her my Czech Mate.
Have a sandwich everybody.