In her biweekly column, A Shared Tradition, CIA grad and amateur food historian Molly Siegler cruises around the world (and into the depths of her pantry) to explore the versatility of a single food item.
This week: Molly sorts through a wealth of delicious sandwich traditions.
Photo by Sarah Shatz
Sandwiches have an innate celebratory vibe -- they are adaptable, often easy to split and share, sometimes whimsical, mostly hand-held, but also simple to pull together. They are the perfect portable feast. Once all your toppings are prepared, you're minutes away from a meal to be remembered.
Many of my most memorable meals have involved pieces of bread and accoutrements: a special fried egg sandwich before a big test day in middle school; my Valentine’s Day tuna fish sandwich cut into hearts by Dad; a recent pile of vinegary pulled pork between buns at Oklahoma Joe’s; a breakfast spread in Poland with thin whole grain bread, deli meats, soft cheeses with chives and radishes, butter, and mustard. What sandwich memories do you hold on to?
The Dutch are really serious about sandwiches. Broodje Haring is a raw herring sandwich lusted after during the late spring in northern Holland. In the Netherlands you can even have a sandwich with chocolate sprinkles and butter for breakfast -- now that’s cool.
Submarine sandwiches can be found all over the United States. How do you take your hoagie?
Bánh mì sandwiches are a fascinating combination of Vietnamese flavors and French techniques.
An open-faced sandwich (smørbrød, smørrebrød, or smörgås) with hundreds of iterations.
These are just a few of the ways I like to travel by way of the sandwich. What other regionally inspired flavors would you use to make this ubiquitous meal your own? Share your ideas in the comments section below.
Do you love a good food theme as much as I do? Tell me what food items or themes you'd like to see featured in this column and your idea could be the subject of an upcoming post!
Like this post? See Molly's previous topic: Popovers.
Molly is a chef and food educator living and cooking in Northern Wisconsin. When she's not dreaming up themed menus, she's dishing out other delicious content as the editorial assistant for the Whole Foods Market Cooking program.