I could have a sandwich for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day, forever—that's how much I love them. Sandwiches are so versatile, you could make a different sandwich every day of the week for every meal of the day and still not repeat any of them. The different combinations for making delicious sandwiches are truly infinite. All you need is your imagination!
Since I am obsessed with sandwiches, I, of course, wanted to understand their true origin. I was surprised to learn that the first recorded sandwich was by a rabbi in the 1st century B.C.! This rabbi would start the Passover custom of taking meat from the Paschal Lamb, chopped nuts, apples, bitter herbs and spices and put them between two pieces of matzo. Voilà! The first sandwich.
As you may know, the "sandwich" was named after a gentleman by the name of John Montagu, the fourth earl of Sandwich. The earl, it seems, was a gambling man, and as the story goes, he ordered one of his valets to bring him some meat tucked between two pieces of bread so he wouldn't have to leave his card game. He could continue playing without getting the cards greasy from eating meat with his bare hands. Others saw what he was doing and ordered up the same thing by saying they would have "the same as Sandwich."
My Very First Sandwich
When I was in the third grade, I ate my first sandwich—bologna—and I loved it. From then on, I wanted sandwiches in my lunch box all the time when I was in grammar school. My sandwich of choice was bologna, of course, in between two slices of soft white bread with mayonnaise on one side and mustard on the other, complete with crunchy whole potato chips on top. I loved the feel and crunch of the salty potato chips with this wonderful sliver of meat that was foreign to me. Foreign because my mother never let me eat bologna and never gave me a sandwich for lunch. Instead, she would always pack me gourmet lunches, which I was embarrassed by because I just wanted to be like the other kids who ate sandwiches, chips and cupcakes.
One day, a boy approached me and asked me to meet him in the coat room with my lunch box. When I got there, he smiled at me and whispered that he would gladly exchange his bologna sandwich for my lunch. I asked him to let me see the sandwich. He pulled out something that was wrapped in waxed paper and there it was—a sandwich on soft white bread (crusts cut off) with one slice of bologna, mustard and mayonnaise. I asked him if he had any chips to go with it and he said they were back on his desk. I told him he had to throw in the chips and I would do it. For the next three years, we traded lunches.
How to spice up any average sandwich
There are so many ways to make sandwiches today, and I have fun thinking of different ways to make a sandwich stand out. One of the ways is to use different spreads—such as pesto made with either basil or arugula, or an olive tapenade—along with different kinds of cheese and fresh herbs like basil, thyme and parsley.
There are also wonderful breads that you can toast or grill, such as olive, rosemary, focaccia, jalapeño, onion and herb, to give your sandwich extra flavor and texture. Grill any vegetable and add it to your favorite sandwich, or simply add it to some goat cheese for a delicious meatless option.
I also like to make a spicy spread, which is your basic base for Thousand Island dressing: 3/4 cups of mayonnaise, 1/4 cup of tomato ketchup and 2 tablespoons of Tabasco. Whip it all together using a whisk and add a pinch of cayenne if you want to make it really spicy. It will last in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to a week.
To appease my love of sandwiches, I often have soup-and-sandwich parties at my home. I make a huge platter usually a few hours before friends and family arrive. Just store them tightly in plastic wrap and keep them in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
My 10 Favorite Sandwiches
Caprese, made with heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, sprinkled with kosher salt, cracked pepper and pesto spread over a sourdough baguette
Club sandwich with roasted chicken or turkey, bacon, arugula and tomato with spicy mayo on toasted rye, sourdough or seven-grain bread
Italian sub made with mortadella, prosciutto, soppressatta (dried salami), marinated red peppers, arugula, basil and goat cheese spread over a baguette or Italian bread, topped with cracked pepper
Tuna salad on Jewish rye bread with sliced cucumbers, wild arugula and avocado
Hamburger sandwich made with fresh ground chuck and sharp, thick-sliced cheddar cheese on a grilled bun with ketchup and bread-and-butter pickles
Grilled vegetable sandwich with goat cheese on grilled ciabatta bread
Chinese chicken salad wrap with crunchy chow mien noodles
Hot or sweet Italian sausage sandwich on warm ciabatta bread with marinated red peppers
Gyros sandwich in a warm pita pocket with tzatziki (a cucumber sauce)
Grilled sliced steak sandwich with pesto
Another simple sandwich I love to make is my Chicken Salad Sandwich, filled with flavor, texture and even a touch of heat! Open-faced or between two slices of bread, this one is a sure to tickle your taste buds and impress your guests.
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, December 5, 2013