I’ve been thinking a lot recently about THE lunchbox food. And by that I mean, what pops into your mind first when you think of the food inside your lunchbox? You might say Peanut Butter & Jelly, but let’s think outside the lunchbox here, people. (okay I know that was bad, but I couldn’t resist) Really the first thing out of someone’s mouth is probably going to be “Sandwich”. Be it a PBJ or a ham & swiss or a turkey and lettuce with mayo on wheat (ughhh…day after day of this!!) like my mom used to make, it can be argued that the sandwich is the quintessential lunchbox food. So I thought I’d snoop around the web for some scoop on where this amazing entree comes from, where it’s going, and what legal battles might be waged over it. (more on that last part later) The earliest reference to anything remotely resembling the sandwich is the famous rabbi Hillel the Elder in the 1st Century BC. Apparently Hillel came up with the idea of rolling a mixture of chopped nuts, apples, spices, and wine (and, if you believe Wikipedia, meat from the Paschal lamb and bitter herbs) into a matzoh and chowing down. This symbolizes the bitterness of slavery in Egypt and the hasty exodus from Egypt by the Jewish people so many years ago. Later, in the Middle Ages in Europe, people made a habit out of using coarse, stale pieces of bread as plates to eat off of. (Hey, don’t make that face. If I had a nickel for every time I ate off a day-old slice of cold hard pizza in college…okay that’s a story for another time) By the time a medieval diner finished off his main course, the juices and sauces would become absorbed by the bread and would usually be fed to dogs, beggars, or, if the diner was hungry enough, himself. Here, here! It’s the original waste-free dishware! By the 18th Century, we have a few theories about the origin of the modern-day sandwich, including one from Grosley’s Tour to London book from the 1760s, which notes that card-game players would eat meat between two pieces of bread so they could dine without having to leave their game. The sandwich finally arrived here in the USA in 1840 when Elizabeth Leslie published a cookbook that had a recipe for ham sandwiches.
Okay so now that we know how sandwiches came to be, my next idea is to try a week’s worth of creative sandwiches that I found around the web. I’m planning a slew of recipes dedicated to THE SANDWICH, with a grand finale harkening back to a legal battle over what “officially” constitutes a sandwich. Yes, you heard right. Panera Bread Company and Qdoba Mexican Grill actually had to slug it out in court to determine whether or not a burrito is a sandwich. The verdict? NO! But that won’t stop me from being inspired to create an awesome lunchbox sandw- errr…creation. Stay tuned!