Stop chewing and roll the dice already!
The story of the sandwich as I know it.
by Chef Lippe.
Hero, Reuben, BLT, Club, Lox and Cream, Burger, Sailor, Croque Monsieur. All these names make allusion to meals prepared between loaves of bread, often the humblest item on the menu, the fastest to be served, the fastest to be consumed.
These are the alleged origins of this dish if we can call it that, and the circumstances in which it was conceived.
Facts point to John Montagu (1718 – 1792). Fourth Earl of the House of Sandwich, Lord of Sandwich, First Admiral of The Crown of The United Kingdom, Member of the House of Lords and the Royal Society, Superior Administrator of the British Naval Army, Commander General of Expeditions having his name adjudicated to the Sandwich Islands through his subordinate the famous Captain Cook.
Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Madrid, of demented wife descendant of the House of Windsor, lover of famous actress Martha Ray, pioneer expeditionary of the North Pole. Member of the Brotherhood of the Monks of Medmenham, the infamous Hellfire Club, dedicated to holding orgies that lasted days on end along with his mother and several concubines. A secret society that counted in its membership high profile figures like the Earl of Bute, Frederick Prince of Wales, the Duke of Queensbury, a considerable slice of European nobility of the time and even, as a visitor, Benjamin Franklin. Located in the premises of the reconstructed Abbey of Medmenham in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, founded by friars of the Cistercian Order.
Self-proclaimed libertine, started a whole gastronomic genre practiced universally today. The start of which allegedly due to his stern dedication to gambling. In the words of Rodger, his official biographer, a passage in Grosley’s Tour of London, a contemporary tourist guide at the time described the following.
“I found by fate or chance and accompanied a Royal Minister for twenty and four consecutive hours, who so engaged in the luck of wedgers did not have larger sustain but a piece of meat in between two morsels of bread and red wine, custom rapidly gaining popularity among London nobility in nights of indulgence”
Once the disease spread, it was hard to control. As Jeremiah Tower remarks in the San Francisco The Examiner in an article published in 2002; Raymond Blanc of Belmont Le Manoir de Quat’ Saisons in Oxford used Hog head, hard-boiled eggs, and lobster. The famous Rivierawich by Alain Ducasse, Mediterranean ingredients in a loaf, yet at the Savoy Anton Edelmann and his Brie and okra, Ken Horn and his famous mix of ginger hot pepper and basil. The good Lord Sandwich surely would have approved Juan Mari Arzak two hundred years later throwing a freshly grilled tuna steak between two pieces of bread drenched in Spanish olive oil.
Whatever your fancy, I definitely have advice for you. Next time you bite into a sandwich remember you are being part of gastronomic history.