AskDefine | Define sandwiches

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of sandwich


  1. third-person singular of sandwich

Extensive Definition

A sandwich is a food item made of two or more slices of leavened bread with one or more layers of filling, typically meat or cheese, with the addition of vegetables or salad. The bread can be used as is, or it can be coated with butter, oil, mustard or other condiments to enhance flavor and texture. In North American usage, sandwich may also refer to what is more commonly referred to in the rest of the world as a hamburger.


The first form of sandwich is attributed to the ancient Jewish sage Hillel the Elder, who is said to have put meat from the Paschal lamb and bitter herbs inside matzo (or flat,unleavened bread) during Passover. The filling between the matzos served as a reminder to Israelites of their forced labor constructing Egyptian buildings.
During the Middle Ages, thick slabs of coarse and usually stale bread, called "trenchers", were used as plates. After a meal, the food-soaked trencher was fed to a dog, less fortunate beggars, or eaten by the diner. Trenchers were as much the harbingers of open-face sandwiches as they were of disposable dishware. The immediate cultural precursor with a direct connection to the English sandwich was to be found in seventeenth-century Holland, where the naturalist John Ray observed that in the taverns beef hung from the rafters "which they cut into thin slices and eat with bread and butter laying the slices upon the butter"— explanatory specifications that reveal the Dutch belegde broodje was as yet unfamiliar in England. The first written usage of the English word appeared in Edward Gibbon's journal, in longhand, referring to "bits of cold meat" as a 'Sandwich'. It was named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, an 18th-century English aristocrat, although he was neither the inventor nor sustainer of the food. It is said that Lord Sandwich was fond of this form of food because it allowed him to continue playing cards, particularly cribbage, while eating without getting his cards greasy from eating meat with his bare hands.
The rumour in its familiar form appeared in Pierre Jean Grosley's Londres (Neichatel, 1770), translated as A Tour to London 1772; Grosley's impressions had been formed during a year in London, 1765. The sober alternative is provided by Sandwich's biographer, N.A.M. Rodger, who suggests Sandwich's commitments to the navy, to politics and the arts mean the first sandwich was more likely to have been consumed at his desk.
It is also possible that Sandwich's wife's sister's husband, Jerome de Salis, who was born in the Grisons Republic of Switzerland, taught him about sandwiches.
If it was initially perceived as food men shared while gaming and drinking at night, the sandwich slowly began appearing in polite society as a late-night meal among the aristocracy. The sandwich's popularity in Spain and England increased dramatically during the 19th century, when the rise of an industrial society and the working classes made fast, portable, and inexpensive meals essential.
It was at the same time that the sandwich finally began to appear outside of Europe. In the United States, the sandwich was first promoted as an elaborate supper meal. By the early 20th century, as bread became a staple of the American diet, the sandwich became the same kind of popular, quick meal as was widespread in the Mediterranean.


Sandwiches are commonly carried to work, school or picnics to be eaten as the midday meal as part of a packed lunch. They are generally made of a combination of vegetables, meat, and/or a variety of sauces. They are widely sold in restaurants and cafes. They are popular throughout the world.

List of regional sandwich styles

Some of these are distinguished primarily by the bread or method of preparation, rather than the filling. The list does not include single-ingredient sandwiches although there are references to many on Wikipedia.
sandwiches in Old English (ca. 450-1100): Sandwīc (ǣt)
sandwiches in Arabic: شطيرة
sandwiches in Breton: Sandwich
sandwiches in Danish: Sandwich
sandwiches in German: Sandwich (Lebensmittel)
sandwiches in Spanish: Sándwich
sandwiches in Esperanto: Sandviĉo
sandwiches in Basque: Ogitarteko
sandwiches in French: Sandwich
sandwiches in Korean: 샌드위치
sandwiches in Indonesian: Roti lapis
sandwiches in Icelandic: Samloka
sandwiches in Italian: Sandwich (cucina)
sandwiches in Hebrew: כריך
sandwiches in Georgian: სენდვიჩი
sandwiches in Lithuanian: Sumuštinis
sandwiches in Hungarian: Szendvics
sandwiches in Malay (macrolanguage): Sandwic
sandwiches in Dutch: Sandwich (gerecht)
sandwiches in Japanese: サンドイッチ
sandwiches in Norwegian: Sandwich
sandwiches in Narom: Sannouiche
sandwiches in Polish: Kanapka
sandwiches in Portuguese: Sanduíche
sandwiches in Romanian: Sandviş
sandwiches in Russian: Сандвич
sandwiches in Northern Sami: Vuodjaláibi
sandwiches in Simple English: Sandwich
sandwiches in Slovenian: Sendvič
sandwiches in Finnish: Voileipä
sandwiches in Swedish: Sandwich
sandwiches in Vietnamese: Bánh mì kẹp
sandwiches in Turkish: Sandviç
sandwiches in Contenese: 三文治
sandwiches in Chinese: 三明治
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