That's not a sandwich, this is a sandwich
When I was in Britain for about a week to write a report in the late 1990s I wandered out of the building at lunchtime to look for something to eat. I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich at a place that advertised sandwiches and was somewhat disappointed in what was served. Thinking that this was the consequence of a poor choice in lunch counters, I tried a different place on each successive day of the week with no better result and left Britain wondering whether there was something I had missed. It was a curious thought given that sandwiches were named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, who allegedly popularized them as comestibles at the gambling table.
It turns out that there is now a "British Sandwich Association" dedicated to upgrading the quality of John Montagu's legacy. The BBC carries an article describing its heroic efforts to reduce the amount of salt used to season them. Fortunately for me, the BBC article also features a picture of the kind of sandwiches I remember from my lunch counter misadventures in the Sceptered Isle, so I didn't imagine them.
It has since dawned on me that the food must have been decent enough in its own way, but my perception of sandwiches had been permanently typed by previous acquaintance with the American article known as a hoagie, grinder, sub, triple decker, strollers or Italians or more generically, Plate. Though I'm no expert, I think the concept of a sandwich in some some countries is of a light refreshment; a stopgap between real meals. It's not really the same thing one would expect from a decent deli, accompanied by whole dill pickle, a side of potato salad or fries and a Big Gulp serving of pop, soda, soft drink or whatever else it happens to be called.
I wish some enterprising graduate student would write a treatise on the philosophy of sandwiches and its correlation with national character. Though I'm uncertain how, I think they somehow correlate. The point came home when I saw someone surfing a Detroit sandwich review site. You wouldn't associate Detroit with cuisine. But consider this slideshow depicting the search for Metro Detroit's best sandwiches. And then there's New York. Those items embody a different concept from sandwiches as some other people understand them.
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