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Meg is a staff writer for The Hudsucker. After going through high school thinking she “didn’t like to write,” she found her love for it her freshman year at college and it’s only deepened since then. Upon graduating from Rutgers University with a BA in Communication in 2013, she began working in online marketing for the hospitality industry. She currently splits her time between NYC, where she works, and NJ, where she lives—but hopes that one day she’ll be able to live & work in the same state (that’s the dream).

Popular Sandwiches from Around the World

Today is National Sandwich Day! What do you picture in your mind when you hear the word sandwich? Is it the combination of peanut butter and jelly on white bread that mundanely greeted you at lunch time on a school day like it is for me? Not that there is anything wrong with a PB&J itself—in fact now that I’ve grown out of the classroom I even find myself craving them—but there is something unfortunate that for many of us it is the first image our mind creates when we think about sandwiches. There are so many different kinds, flavors, and forms of sandwiches from so many different places around the world that it is doing the sandwich a disservice to box it into the school lunch only category. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert—there are plenty of sandwiches to go around.

Image Credit: Prince Roy on flickr

Breakfast sandwiches are arguably one of the most popular types of sandwiches around, especially in North America. In contrast to the sweet types of breakfast food that are mostly enjoyed on weekends when time is of little concern (thinking of waffles, pancakes, french toast and how long they take to prepare), the breakfast sandwich is a more likely breakfast on the morning commute. It is for this reason that fast food and convenience store breakfast menus are made up of a few different kinds of breakfast sandwiches for the most part. No matter what you order though, it is probably some version of this: egg, cheese, and a form of cured meat on a hard roll. In my home state of New Jersey, it’s called the Jersey Breakfast and you’ll be getting “pork roll, egg and cheese” on a roll. In some places in the state, you’ll see the pork roll called “Taylor Ham” after it’s creator, John Taylor, who deserves a medal of honor for creating and selling the meat (in my very un-biased, very New Jersey opinion). Another variation in the sandwich would be the form of bread—some like it on a hard kaiser roll, others a bagel, or even an English muffin.

Now that we’re out of school lunch (presumably) and in control of our own sandwiches (hopefully) we can decide what goes between our two pieces of bread and even what type of bread we’ll be eating! In Vietnam, you could enjoy a “bánh mì” for lunch. Translating to “wheat” in English, bánh mì is the name for the airy baguette that serves as the vehicle for the filling of the sandwich. Like most foods, the bánh mì is different depending on the region of Vietnam you are in, but is typically a combination of pork, pickled carrots, cilantro, peppers and homemade mayonnaise. This sandwich is a representation of the combination of the French and Vietnamese cultures that happened when France began ruling Vietnam in the late 18th century. The baguette of the bánh mì is from France, obviously, and the fresh slaw and herbs of the sandwich finds it’s roots in Vietnam.

Speaking of France, they’re home to another popular sandwich: the croque-monsieur. Being known very famously for their breads—is it any a wonder that the French are a master at sandwiches? A croque-monsieur is a ham and cheese sandwich with a béchamel (butter, flour, and milk) sauce. Until you have one yourself, it can be confusing why this is such a popular sandwich because…it is just a ham and cheese after all, right? No. No it is not. Between the buttered bread slices, the nuttiness from the super melt-y gruyere cheese, saltiness of the ham, and the creamy béchamel sauce — there is no time to be mundane here. But if it still does not seem to be enough for you, fry up an egg and set it on top of your sandwich. You’ve just made yourself a croque madam!

Image Credit: cherrylet on flicker

There is more of a clear distinction between what constitutes a breakfast vs. lunch sandwich than what constitutes a lunch vs. dinner sandwich. Most of the time, sandwiches that you would eat for lunch at your desk you would also eat for dinner. Take the shawarma, a popular Middle Eastern fast food sandwich that is typical made of shaved meat and tahini, all piled into a pita. This sandwich could be eaten for dinner as easily as it could lunch. Shawarma stems from the Turkish word “çevirme” which means “turning.” It is called this because the meat of the sandwich is put on a constantly turning spit, then shaved and put into the pita roll as the sandwich is ordered. These sandwiches resemble the greek “gyro” and have become quite popular in the United States as well.

One of the more famous sandwiches is the Po-boy, a staple in Louisiana, and more particularly New Orleans. This sandwich is normally meat or fried seafood served on a long french bread, very similar to a baguette, but known as New Orleans French Bread. It’s this bread that separates the po-boy from a more typical sub (or submarine, hoagie, grindr, or hero depending on what area of the US you are from) and makes it unique, with it’s extra crispy exterior and airy interior that is perfect for piling high with the filling. The Po-boy was created by the Martin brothers in the 1920s with the purpose of feeding striking streetcar workers. The brothers said that any striker who came by their shop in the French Quarter would get the sandwich for free. When said striker walked into the shop, the workers would yell to one another “Here comes another poor boy!” The sandwich was such a hit that it stuck around longer than the strike did and when this happened, “poor boy” was shortened to just “po-boy” and it became a New Orleans classic.

The fact that almost every country has a sandwich of it’s own is a testament to how versatile this food is. Even by just changing one ingredient you could be creating a whole new sandwich for yourself. If the outcome wasn’t so delicious, it might be a little overwhelming! What am I going to be eating today on National Sandwich Day? Well, I think I’ll wait to celebrate it until dessert time rolls around. Two graham crackers, one piece of dark chocolate, and a toasted marshmallow are where I think my head will be at later on tonight.

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