January 23, 2013

Let's Talk

I believe that most of us think that the sandwich was invented by the Earl of Sandwich. However, that would not be true.  The first mention of "sandwiches" goes back to early times.  The famous Jewish rabbi Hillel the Elder (first century BCE) supposedly made the first one but, of course, he used unleavened bread (called matzoh) instead of the typical bread that we use today.  During Passover he would put apples, chopped nuts, wine and spices between the matzoh.  This "filling" represented  the suffering that the Jews went through before they were freed from slavery and also symbolized the mortar that the Jewish slaves used when forced to do manual labor. 

Nevertheless, the Earl of Sandwich (John Montague, 1718-1792) is credited with why the sandwich is called a sandwich. The most popular story (per gossip that was mentioned in a travel book by a Mr. Pierre Jean Grosley) is that the earl was a gambler and didn't want to stop to eat so he could continue gambling.  One day he instructed his servant to put salt beef (his favorite meat) between two slices of bread so he would still have one hand free to continue his gaming.  The people liked this idea a lot so they requested the "same as Sandwich".

However, there is no supporting evidence that he choose to eat this concoction while gambling.  It is more likely that he ordered this "meal" while working long hours at his desk.  Regardless of the circumstances, Mr. Montague is credited with making the sandwich popular.

Actually, John Montague (the 4th Earl of Sandwich) has a somewhat interesting history. You can read about his life by clicking on these links:




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