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United Sandwiches of America


Chris Amirault
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The Street is reporting on sandwiches, and their piece includes the following jaw-dropping stat:

Technomic [a food research group] found that 81% of U.S. consumers bought a sandwich away from home at least once in the past two months, with 93% of them eating at least one sandwich a week.

The 81% in two months figure makes sense to me. But 93% of US consumers eat at least one sandwich per week? It's a bit less surprising when you realize that burgers count as sandwiches (go to the last page of the article), but, still... that's a lot of bread.

So I tried to remember the last week of eating and, sure enough, I had a Filet o Fish last Friday and grilled cheese last Sunday. If you throw in breakfast sandwhiches, well, there's another one or two. Today I would have had a banh mi if not for a work issue that kept me behind this desk. Who'd a thunk it.

Perhaps that the US is, indeed, a sandwich culture at its roots. Easy to prepare, easy to eat, easy to clean up: great for cars, commuting, kids.

What about you? You eating at least a sandwich a week? Every week?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Yup, sandwiches are, quick, easy and of infinitely variety. Do we count open-faced "sandwiches" (you know, like.. Roast beef and gravy on a nominal piece of bread with a side of mashed potatoes)?

Regardless, I'm sure I average close to eating a sandwich a week. Last week I had a home-grown and smoked cappocola ham and our own aged goat cheese sandwich with roasted red peppers, fresh from the garden on hot Jewish Rye bread that had just come out of the oven. Oh-yes, the humble sandwich can be goooood eatin' food!

The Big Cheese

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I probably eat at least 4-5 a week in the summer. In the winter, when I bake bread every week, that probably doubles if you count good WI cheddar between bread as a sandwich. The sandwich is one of the greatest things ever invented. Today I had left over pork loin roast sliced thinly with a roasted hatch chili and mayo.

nunc est bibendum...

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Do we count open-faced "sandwiches" (you know, like.. Roast beef and gravy on a nominal piece of bread with a side of mashed potatoes)?

I wouldn't. If you can't eat it with one hand without a plate, it doesn't fit the naming legend. But I do think that things wrapped in tortillas (like a breakfast burrito) qualify in spirit, if not in strict definition.

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I probably eat at least 4-5 a week in the summer. In the winter, when I bake bread every week, that probably doubles if you count good WI cheddar between bread as a sandwich.

Interesting, I eat more sandwiches in the summer (it's BLT season after all). I wonder if there is a seasonal trend one way or the other for the whole country.

 

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Perhaps that the US is, indeed, a sandwich culture at its roots. Easy to prepare, easy to eat, easy to clean up: great for cars, commuting, kids.

What about you? You eating at least a sandwich a week? Every week?

I eat sandwiches at least 4-5 times a week, but I take my lunch to work most days.

I suspect many other countries are equally fond of sandwiches. The only other places I've lived are Spain and France. Spain consumes lots of "bocadillos" (sandwiches on French bread). France as well wasn't immune to the sandwich's charms, although perhaps outside of the student culture people eat them less.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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We're a culture on the move. I'm from California, the land that practically invented drive through restaurants, drive ins, and fast food. When I'm out with the kidlet, I'll choose drive-thru over sit-down almost always. Sammiches and burgers are to-go food. They get it down the gullet. (He doesn't eat fast food. I grab fast food because I often miss meals while feeding him, and there's errands to run.)

I actually eat more "Mexican" fast food than actual sandwiches to go: burritos, fish tacos. At home, the only sandwich in regular rotation is cheese toast (and bagels and cream cheese, stretching the definition). Nitrates are bad, mmkay, and kidlet doesn't like sweet, so PB&J's are a no-go.

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I probably eat at least 4-5 a week in the summer. In the winter, when I bake bread every week, that probably doubles if you count good WI cheddar between bread as a sandwich.

Interesting, I eat more sandwiches in the summer (it's BLT season after all). I wonder if there is a seasonal trend one way or the other for the whole country.

I definitely change the kinds of sandwiches I eat in the summer to maximize BLT consumption too. In the colder months I bake a lot of bread and for a snack I'll just put something between slices and eat it. If that qualifies as a sandwich, I eat a lot of them. I make a lot of tortillas in the summer so its chips and salsa instead of the sandwich usually. Probably pretty idiosyncratic though.

nunc est bibendum...

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Italy isn't really big on sandwiches. Don't get me wrong, you can get one on every corner. But they are all the same: two fat pieces of bread with a couple of skinny slices of a cold cut or tomato and mozzarella etc. Not saying you can't get a good sandwich, but still.

I LOVE sandwiches, interesting or boring...but the bread in all cases has to be good. I make them on purpose. Not just with leftovers. heehee.

Does a hot dog sandwich count? That is, a sliced hot dog on crusty Italian bread? If so, I had one for dinner tonight. :) I do make sandwiches all the time. I can't wait for my son to start eating them! It will sure make my life easier!

Edited by ambra (log)
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When I was still working, I had many more sandwiches than I do now. Maybe once or twice every couple of weeks for lunch. Usually I had leftover dinner to reheat for lunch, but sometimes that well would run dry, and I'd either make or buy a sandwich (not counting 'burgers here....for some reason, in my little mind, they don't count as a "sandwich").

It was odd, because everytime I'd have one *I'D* made, I'd think "damn....this is really GOOD....I should make sandwiches more often".

Never said that about bought sandwiches, usually.

Now that I'm not working, and not eating much for lunch, I haven't had a sandwich, other than the requisite summer tomato sandwiches for a long time. A couple here and there, but nothing regular. For whatever reason, a sandwich to me (other than the aforementioned 'burger) just is not dinner. Weird, as I said, because I do enjoy a good one, especially one I've made.

--Roberta--

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Easy to prepare, easy to eat, easy to clean up: great for cars, commuting, kids.

The convenience of the sandwich is definitely one big point in favor, but sandwiches are also really good at least potentially. And we do sandwiches very well in America. Most of my sandwich experiences in other nations have revealed limited if not impoverished sandwich cultures. Whereas here, sure, you have many of the expected crap sandwiches consisting of lunch meat on squishy white bread, but you also have an incredibly diverse culture of sandwich artistry cold and hot, high and low. Porchetta, banh mi, lobster roll, PB&J, ham and cheese, egg salad, cuban sandwich, BLT, Italian-American deli (salume of all kinds), Jewish-American deli (pastrami, chopped liver, bagel with lox and cream cheese), nouvelle chef-driven deli ('wichcraft's marinated white anchovies), relatively high-quality chains (Panera, Quizno's), croque monsieur, Monte Cristo, muffuletta, cheesesteak, barbecue, Reuben, panini, burgers, sliders, meatball parm, hot open-faced, club, tuna melt, gyros, bacon-and-egg, churasco, po' boy, falafel, shawarma, Chick-Fil-A, McRib, Egg McMuffin, Filet O' Fish. That's just a starting point. As you read that list, if you're someone who eats sandwiches, you'll have dozens to add ("Hey you forgot grilled cheese!") and lots of questions ("Do wraps count?") . And then if you circle back to the convenience factor you have situations where you have a stand-alone good food product and the sandwich format is probably the best way to convey it as a portable lunch. For example earlier this week I braised a brisket. My son wanted brisket in his school lunch on Wednesday. I couldn't really think of a better way to get brisket into a school lunch so I put some cold sliced brisket on good bread with Russian dressing. He liked it so much he requested it again the next day. And he has asked that I make it again this morning.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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It's funny... when I first read this post I was thinking that I hardly ever eat sandwiches. But then I thought about my meals more carefully, sandwiches start popping up. In just the past couple of weeks I ate a roast pork sandwich from DiNics and a banh mi plus several quasi sandwiches.

Is cheese on a slice of bread considered a sandwich? How about tacos? The ideas are very similar...

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During college I worked with a woman from Columbia who didn't understand Americans in regard to sandwiches. She said that (at the time) in Columbia, a sandwich was just a snack...something to tide you over until you could get a real meal. She said she thought it was strange that Americans would consider a sandwich a meal.

As for wraps and tacos, I don't think I would consider them sandwiches because no bread is involved. If you're going to start stretching the definition, then I want to call the KFC Double Down a sandwich then. :laugh:

No to tacos, but yes to tortas.

 

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The sandwiches in Colombia may very well be snacks. I'm not sure any sane person could consider a Katz's pastrami sandwich a snack, though.

I think the most traditional definition of a sandwich is stuff between two or more slices of bread. But then you can also have something on a split roll. Or open-face on one slice of bread. And then there are sandwich-like things where the ingredients are between two pieces of non-bread, like the KFC Double Down (between two fried chicken breast patties) and Junior's "Something Different" (brisket between potato latkes). Then you have wraps and related items like burritos. With each of those categories you move farther from the traditional definition, but the history of defining food terms is one of expansiveness so I'm not sure where I'd draw the line.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I love making hi end sandwiches with a nice baguette (in the parts ecce panis makes a decent french stick), chicken Marsala, Chicken Picatta, pour the sauce on the bread, cover with provolone, bake cheese into bread add Chicken, then pour sauce and more provolone. Have a salad and you have a complete meal. I think my sandwich versions are better, tastier and far easier to transport than the meal version.

Hot dog sandwiches split hotdogs, cheeze kraut (Cooked down to nothing, soft as can be), american cheese, relish, grey poupon, as a grilled cheese.

I love baking in provolone into Hormel Deluso salami grinders too!

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I'll bite. "A sandwich is a dish made up of a mostly solid filling, usually meat, atop or between slices of leavened bread, which is intended to be used as its exclusive container."

An SF chowder bowl isn't a sandwich. Chowder's not solid.

A Double Down isn't a sandwich. There's no bread. It' a Jeremiah tower of meat. It's a play on a sandwich, an homage, etc. It's actually very post modern of them.

A wrap or a burrito isn't a sandwich. It's not bread. Sandwiches must use leavened bread. Otherwise, nachos could be considered sandwiches, or a Scotch egg, or pork katsu, or fish tacos, or mac n cheese with bread crumbs, or egg rolls, or won tons, or char siu bao, or sushi.

A pork medallion served on a toasted round of brioche is not a sandwich. The brioche is not intended to be used as a container. The dish requires it to be contained on a plate.

That leaves hamburgers, hot dogs, Monte Cristos, PB&J's, and leftover Turkey Day open-faced drowned-in-gravy dealios as sammiches.

Too much food. Need a nap.

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