Savannah Valley District

Homemaker’s Column: Earl, For Sandwiches, Even If You Never Ate One






Everyone knows that one of America’s most popular meals, the sandwich, was invented by John Montague.

Who? Well, you might know him as the Earl of Sandwich. The story goes that Montague was so addicted to playing cards that he refused to take breaks for meals, preferring to take his meat and cheese between two slices of bread.

The invention became so popular that it became known as a “sandwich” in the Earl’s honor.

The truth is, Montague suffered from a gastro-intestinal disorder brought on by a severe wound received during a naval battle at the age of 17. From that point on, he had to subsist on liquid meals.

Nevertheless, he may still have had a role in popularizing the sandwich. In 1748 he visited France, where he discovered that landowners provided their field workers with a noontime meal. The most common meal was made by placing meat, potatoes, vegetables, and sauce between two thick slices of bread.

He was so impressed by the economy of the meals that on his return to England, he began to feed them to his own workers.

Whatever the truth of their origins, there is one overriding truth about sandwiches: they taste GOOD. Everybody has a favorite – the tomato sandwich, peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese on rye, chicken salad. The list goes on and on and on.

White bread is probably the most common choice for the great American sandwich. Many die-hard tomato fans proclaim that white is the only bread that should even be considered for the sacred tomato sandwich. PB & J lovers often echo that sentiment.

But when it comes to other sandwiches, whole-grain bread, with their nuttiness and chewy texture, add more flavor, fiber, and nutrition to a sandwich. Whole grains provide minerals and B-complex vitamins. Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Other options include pita bread, with its light taste as a perfect backdrop for intensely flavored fillings, or Italian, soft in the center with a crunchy crust is excellent for hot sandwiches.

How about raisin bread? Try ham and cheese on raisin bread, lightly grilled. Or, run English muffins under a broiler when topped with tomato slices, scrambled eggs, and bacon.

Instead of always making plain ham, turkey, roast beef, or cheese the dominant flavor of your sandwich, why not spice things up with a generous dose of Cajun seasoning or Italian herbs. You could add curry powder to chicken salad or lemon pepper and celery seeds to tuna. Slather honey mustard on your turkey or ham. Or, top your grilled chicken with hot sauce and blue cheese.

Don’t forget the veggies when you think sandwich. Sliced tomatoes and lettuce are always popular additions, but those are just the beginning.

Consider taking your sandwich a step further. Cucumber slices are tasty on a cold sandwich. Thinly sliced onion and bell pepper quickly sautéed in a nonstick skillet add crunch, flavor, and an extra bit of nutrition. Coleslaw can be added to a barbecue or roast pork sandwich.

A well-made sandwich can be an economical, quick to prepare, well-rounded meal. Grains, vegetables, protein, and dairy can all contribute to making your next sandwich as good for your body as it is for your taste buds.

They are quick to fix from items already on hand, whether you like them cold, toasted, broiled, grilled, or wrapped in foil and baked.

So, thanks, Earl, for the sandwich. If you never ate one, you don’t know what you were missing. Or, maybe you do.

For more ideas on food safety or healthy food preparation, visit the Clemson University Home and Garden Information Center on the web at

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer

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