With British Sandwich Week making its presence known next month (14-20th May in case you don’t have this monumental date already flagged in your diary!) we’ve been contemplating the popularity of one of the nation’s favourite fast foods.
The sarnie, buttie, sanga, barm – whatever you choose to call it – has featured in the culinary repertoire of Brits since 1762, when John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich (and renowned gambler) ordered cold beef between two slices of toast simply because he didn’t want to be disturbed during a 24-hour card game! The ultimate ‘food on the go’ concept has since become the staple lunch choice for many (especially those confined to an office space) and in Britain alone we buy a staggering 3.5 billion sandwiches a year.
This has led us to ponder on highly intellectual matters – such as what makes for a great sandwich? To toast or not to toast? And that all important debate, what is the top sandwich filling?
Use your loaf
Choosing the right bread to match your choice of filling is essential (who knew!). Apparently certain breads favour specific types of filler. Pairing a moist filling with a soft fluffy bread is not acceptable, as experts claim this creates a recipe for a sponge rather than a sandwich! Sandwich connoisseurs adopt the general rule that the more moist the filling, the drier and denser the bread should be – ideally with a good thick crust. And for particularly tricky ingredients which can be prone to making a quick getaway from between the slices of bread, opt for a tortilla or wrap to deliver a more satisfying and less messy munch.
Spread the flavour
Let’s face it, there’s nothing less enticing than a bland, dry sandwich. Add a burst of flavour by slapping on some tasty spread to accompany your filling. Mustard and mayonnaise / salad cream are the tried and trusted options, but you can also experiment with vinaigrettes, pestos, BBQ sauces, chutneys and salsas.
Say no to soggy
There’s a difference between a tantalising moist sandwich and a downright soggy, sagging bread based disaster. If you want to avert the latter then you need to make sure the mayonnaise, butter or cream cheese (whatever your choice of spread) are carefully applied all the way to the edge to create an effective seal against wet sandwich fillings. Toasting the bread can also help and if you’ve got the time and inclination, you can even pack high moisture ingredients like tomatoes, pickles, cucumber separately and add just before you tuck in.
Fave fillings top 5
According to a survey by Olive magazine last year, that sacred British tradition, the bacon buttie heads up the leader board for top sandwiches, with the prawn mayo snatching the runner up slot and the hallowed BLT securing third place.
Now for something a little different
If you’re tired of the same old cheese and pickle number, you may want to feast your eyes on this list of quirky sandwich suggestions:
Honey and cheese – a smooth and runny honey paired with a strong cheese like Stilton
Pineapple and Mayonnaise
Toasted Starburst (or Opal Fruits to people of a certain age)
Peanut butter and banana
Marshmallow fluff and banana
Chocolate spread with cheese
Peanut butter and pickle
Mature cheese and salt and vinegar crisps
And possibly the student’s favourite – the chicken supernoodle buttie …
Or maybe not …
Anyone for salad?