I love sandwiches! I mean really! It's like a four-course meal in one neat little package. So it is only fitting that in the waning hours of this day that I pay homage to John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, the inventor of the sandwich who died this day in 1792. (It is rumored that he invented this little beauty as a quick meal that would not interrupt his inveterate gambling.)
Therefore, in honor of the good earl, here are some musings about four of my favorite sandwiches:
There are several versions as to the origin of the Reuben. One is that Reuben Kulakofsky, a Lithuanian-born grocer from Omaha, Nebraska, invented it. Another account has Arnold Reuben, the German-born owner of Reuben’s Delicatessen in New York, inventing the “Reuben Special” around 1914. For me, I find the latter creation myth the most plausible because no other sandwich shouts NEW YORK! more than the reuben. I don’t know about you, but whenever I eat a Rueben, I start talking like Henry Hill from Goodfellas.
The Club Sandwich (probably my favorite, except for fried bologna—see below) is a sandwich with two layers of bread, usually white bread that is lightly toasted. (More on this in a later entry, but the world can be divided into “light toasters” and “dark toasters.”) It is often cut into quarters and held together by hors d'œuvre sticks. (Classy!) In my opinion, the Club is best served with a crisp dill pickle spear (eaten last) and ridged potato chips. For me, the Club was my first “grown-up sandwich.” One popular theory is that the club sandwich was invented in an exclusive Saratoga Springs, New York, gambling club in the late 19th century.
I was late-comer to the BLT. For most of my life, I didn’t like fresh tomatoes, though I loved tomato sauce and cooked tomatoes. Then one day, I gave a raw tomato—a perfectly vine-ripened specimen—a chance. Wow! My next step was the BLT. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing all these years! To make up for it, I ate a BLT for lunch every day for two weeks straight.
The PBJ is a classic. It’s like your first kiss—you will never forget when and where you had your first one. (Beth, behind the bushes in the front yard, third grade birthday party.) And like Proust’s madeleine, it will always remind you of Mom. The PBJ is also the only sandwich that has its own drink: milk. Milk and PBJs go together like champagne and foie gras. The PBJ is the perfect example that sweet and savory really does work. And if you are ever in New York City near Washington Square, you must try Peanut Butter & Company (http://ilovepeanutbutter.com ) they have every conceiveable variation on the PBJ imaginable. You can also buy their peanut butters in the store.
Of course this list could go on and on, so feel free to add to it. I know that many of you south of the Mason-Dixon Line are wondering why I did not mention the fried bologna sandwich. There's a perfectly acceptable reason. This sandwich is so perfect in every respect, it deserves, and will get, its own blog entry.
Don't know about you, but I'm raiding my fridge for a late-night snack.