This book is fun. Sandwiches are not by nature a serious food group. We make them for picnics and parties. The bread keeps our fingers free from exotic fillings or last night’s left-overs, and quite honestly everyone loves sandwiches. What would a traditional posh afternoon tea be without its spread of crustless cucumber sandwiches?
This form of fast food isn’t a new culinary whim. It was the Earl of Sandwich who in 1762 first made a meal of two slices of bread and a filling. It wasn’t that he was a budding Heston Blumenthal of the 18th century. This was a practical response to the problem of wanting to eat but needing to remain at the card table.
This truly is an encyclopedia of sandwiches. It’s an alphabetical list and each recipe or construction has its own picture. There are sarnies made from brioche, bagels, brown bread, baguettes, biscuits and buns as well as the humble white sliced. Your favourite bread can be transformed into a real repast rather than a swift snack.
Sandwiches are a universal favourite. Vietnam has its celebrated Fusion Roll. Banh Mi is a split baguette which gives a nod to the French presence in the country. They left some striking colonial architecture, and this paté-filled sandwich. Carrots, coriander and daikon are seasoned with fish sauce, rice vinegar and soy sauce to represent the Asian element.
A uniquely American sandwich is the PB and J. Expats grow misty-eyed at the memory of this confection, whilst the majority of the rest of the world views it with horror or even disbelief. This is a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich and, it seems, a lunchbox staple, that was invented back in 1901. It might sound an outlandish combination but I consider that anything that endures must have some merit. I am sure that the British chip butty will raise a few Californian eyebrows and there might be enquiries as to the whereabouts of the salad.
I tease our American cousins about their PB and J sandwiches but my sandwich of choice is indeed American. It’s the Pulled-Pork Sandwich and it’s moreish. If you are a lover of BBQ then this is for you. The meat is oven-cooked so this will be the meal of choice for those long winter days when one dreams of alfresco entertainment but the rain won’t let up.
The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches is a volume that will make any real food lover smile with unadulterated pleasure. This is freestyle “cooking”. It’s a book of ideas and we will all have our traditional favourites, but those fillings that push the envelope will be the ones to try. Enticing and entertaining.
The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches
Author: Susan Russo
Published by: Quirk
Price: $18.95, £11.99
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018