When we are hungry and in need of a quick meal, we reach out for delightful sandwiches. The best thing about sandwiches is that they can make a main course, a satiating snack, and a meal on-the-go. Those little buddies are versatile, offering a nice blend between more than a few juicy ingredients and yummy sauces.
Interestingly, every country in the world has its own set of iconic sandwiches that fill your tummy with some yummy ingredients. There is so much more to sandwiches than we ever give them credit for. They are comfort food that can save you in the middle of a daunting day and take the stress away even for a few minutes.
Sandwiches also say a lot about the identity of different cultures, revealing the key flavours to each cuisine. We got to say that having some magical flavours embraced by two slices of bread is a an under appreciated form of art. Let’s take you on a journey of all the iconic sandwiches around the world, with each having its own story of birth and rich history.
The History of Sandwiches
You are probably here for the variety of dishes this article is offering, but we thought maybe having a quick brief about the history of the sandwich would be interesting. Upon an agreement among historians, the prize of sandwich invention goes to the famous English politician and gambler, John Montagu. He spent long hours of his life gambling and causing troubles.
His gambling addiction was the reason the idea of a sandwich was brought into the world. According to legends, Montagu’s obsession had refrained him from ever leaving the table, so he had to grab his meals while gambling. Having cold meat in one hand on the gambling table had resulted in sticky cards. So, to avoid this from happening he placed his meat between two slices of bread, and voila!
While the origin of sandwiches has been stuck to Montagu, it is said that texts from much earlier periods claim that they existed way back before. Some also believe that a sandwich was the product of the rabbi and scholar, Hillel the Elder. However, most people tend to believe Montagu was the real inventor.
Most Iconic Sandwiches Around the World
Sandwiches became a staple dish all around the world. Each culture has managed to use its key ingredients and flavours to create original sandwiches native to their heritage. In this interesting list, we will walk you through 10 of the most iconic sandwiches in different cultures. We are confident that there will be one, if not more, for you to savour and enjoy.
1. Hawawshi – Egypt
Egyptian cuisine is famous for its diverse flavours and assorted dishes that possess some uniqueness that makes it even stand out among the Arabian dishes. Sandwiches also play a vital role in the daily lives of Egyptians. They are consumed during breakfasts and dinner on a regular basis. One of the most iconic sandwiches in Egypt is the renowned Hawawshi. This protein-based meal is quite fulfilling and laden with tasteful flavours that will satisfy your taste buds.
Despite the great hype that this sandwich creates, it is actually quite basic and simple. Hawawshi is mainly minced beef spiced with pepper, parsley, onions, and chilies on many occasions. It is neatly put inside pita bread and baked or grilled to perfection. Sesame paste is the perfect dipping sauce to pair with hawawshi for an out-of-the-world blend.
2. Classic Ham and Cheese – Ireland
Irish cuisine has gained the reputation of using potatoes as the main ingredient in most of their prominent dishes. And, while this is partially true, Ireland has also turned to be fond of sandwiches, especially those toasts with a tasteful crunch.
Surprisingly, the classic ham and cheese sandwich turns out to be an ultimate favourite in the Irish lands. While ham and cheese is quite popular around different parts of the world, the Irish definitely put their own spin on it.
This delightful toastie is made by using two slices of bread. One side is used for the spread, where you add a pleasing dash of Dijon mustard with a tomato for some added sweetness. On the other slice, start with adding the ham to make sure it goes on top then add a slice of cheese along with lettuce. Put both slices together and cut them in half to enjoy your sandwich neatly.
3. Peanut Butter & Jelly – United States
Peanut butter and jelly is one of the most iconic sandwiches consumed by a great majority in the United States. This is not just a basic sandwich; it is actually one that you reach out to when you’re looking for a treat that will lighten up your mood and is still fulfilling. And, don’t get us started on how time-saving it is, you can actually make it in a snap.
Interestingly, the nutritious value of this sandwich is quite fascinating. It can serve as a balanced meal since it is full of healthy fats, fibre, and protein. However, we don’t really need to emphasise on moderate consumption as it’s still relatively laden with calories. So, this American staple will save you with something fruity and utterly delightful.
4. Döner Kebab – Turkey
Did you know that the popular döner kebab is among the most iconic sandwiches in Turkey? In fact, Istanbul is known for being the most famous city in the world to serve the best döner kebab ever. Many people mistakenly believe it is of German origin. And, while it has always been a popular street food in Germany, it was actually introduced there by the Turkish immigrants.
Döner is a Turkish word that means spinning or rotating. It comes from the fact that this meat is cooked while hung vertically over fire and rotating around. The purpose of this vertical cooking method is to cook the outer layer of the meat until it’s perfectly crispy yet leave the insides tender. This perfect wrap is stuffed with kebab along with lettuce, onions, and tomatoes to spice up the taste.
5. The Michetta – Italy
The Italian cuisine has been known for its inimitable products and that is actually one of the reasons it managed to travel overseas and become popular in every corner of the world. Besides the delectable P’s in Italy, sandwiches and bakery stand tall in the food scenes of Italy. The Michetta is a traditional sandwich that wanders the Italian streets, embracing rich ingredients and is worth a try.
Michetta originated in Milano, offering the world a different form of sandwich other than the famous Milanese stuffed rolls. It is made by using a fluffy bread with a bulged exterior that resembles a flower shape and hollow insides. This hollowness embraces several ingredients that create a great harmony when mixed together.
While the fillings can vary from one place to another, vegetables and meat varieties are the main ingredients. You get to choose whether you want it filled with salumi, beef, chicken, or fish. Aside from the base ingredients, a wide array of spices and sauces are offered to give your tasteful sandwich an extra edge.
6. Bánh Mì – Vietnam
If you have ever been to Vietnam, chances of missing its most famous traditional sandwich, Banh mi, are really slim. Banh mi is a Vietnamese staple that has made it to the top of the world’s most iconic sandwiches, given its luscious fillings and relished taste. The astounding combination of harmonising ingredients is what makes this meal irresistible.
Let’s get to the good part, which is what a banh mi is filled with. This sandwich is made with bread rolls with crispy crust. The fillings are a delicious combination between Asian ham, vegetables, pickles, green onions, cilantro, and chilies to spice it up. Adding a drizzle of sauces or other seasoning ingredients is a matter of choice.
7. Croque Madame – France
French meals have always had the tendency to carry names with a hint of graceful and elegance, and croque madame is no different. While the French cuisine lean more towards baked goods than sandwiches, Croque madame is one that merits a chance to revel in. If you are familiar with the renowned croque monsieur sandwich, this one is just the same but with an added edge.
Croque monsieur is a quick treat that people enjoy on-the-go all around the French cities. However, croque madame is just the same hot cheese and ham sandwich but with a poached egg as a topping. The additional egg makes the meal more fulfilling and rich. Not to mention the extra flavour it gives this appetising fluff.
8. Bocadillo – Spain
Bocadillo is a Spanish sandwich that resembles a twisted baguette. It also goes by the name bocata, which translates into sandwich. Before bocadillo managed to become among the most iconic sandwiches in the world, it was rather perceived as a humble meal, given its affordable price. Yet, its modesty aided in making the sandwich a staple in Spanish cuisine.
Let’s just cut it to the chase and get into the more important details. Bocadillo, or bocata, is a fluffy baguette that is filled with omelette or cold meat, most commonly ham or sausages, along with a mix of vegetables and cheese. Another popular variation of this sandwich is stuffing it with seafood, especially tuna or the renowned fried squid, known as bocadillo de calamares.
9. Arayes – Lebanon
Arayes is an Arabic word that means “brides” or “bride and groom.” It is another Middle Eastern sandwich that became among the world’s iconic sandwiches. Surprisingly, this Lebanese sandwich bears a great resemblance to the Egyptian hawawshi. In fact, the great similitude between them has made people confuse between them, leading a minority in Egypt to call their hawawshi by the Lebanese name.
Arayes is minced beef stuffed into pita breads after it is spiced and mixed with lemon juice, garlic, parsley, and onions. A couple of tomatoes are diced into fine pieces and mixed with the ground beed to haul up its appetising flavour. A splash of extra-virgin olive oil is enough to add a healthy addition.
Most of the ingredients are used to make the Egyptian hawawshi, however, the bread used is quite different, for hawawshi is made with a baked dough while Arayes is made with whole wheat pita bread.
10. Gyro Wrap – Greece
Greece is one more Middle Eastern country with a prominent cuisine. Gyro is the Greek equivalent of Arabian shawarma or Mexican burrito, except that the fillings of all these iconic sandwiches are not at all the same.
The way the sandwiches are wrapped with the fillings coming out of the head is what make people confuse between all of them. Gyro wrap is made by rolling up flatbread. You can also use pita breads and roll them over once just to hold your ingredients and secure them in place while you enjoy your meal.
The fillings of a gyro include the renowned marinated Greek chicken, a salad mix consisting of the famous Greek staples, cucumbers and tomatoes, and tzatziki, which is a condiment of Greek yogurt mixed with cucumbers, mint, and garlic.
This list is just a few iconic sandwiches that the world has joyfully bestowed upon us. There is definitely a lot of great sandwiches that are irresistibly succulent and worth the try. Share with us what your favourite is and where it comes from!