LC Van Savage
Extra Mayo, Please
When you are a perfect person such as you and I, we can give ourselves permission to be driven meshugge over certain actions, words and things, and there are quite a few of those around to annoy us, are there not? So folks, since I do see a perfect person when I glance into a mirror, not, I feel free to allow myself to go moderately ballistic about the commonplace pronunciation of “sandwich.”
People! I’m begging you. It is not SAMWITCH, nor is it SAMITCH. Please stop saying that. The thing you eat that has stuff in between slices of bread is called a SANDWICH. Sand, like that stuff on a beach you sit on that’s attached to the edge of an ocean. Witch, like that green squawking lady who melted at the end of The Wizard of Oz. SAND wich. Repeat. SAND wich.
OK, now that we have all that organized, let’s talk about the history of that culinary gem. I’ve done some research, but research as you already know, is done by humans, many of whom are flawed. Not all, as we’ve already noted, but some. So research must be looked at with a jaundiced eye, and by the way, is that a yellow eye or what? I’ll research that later. So let’s see what the researchers say about the invention of the sandwich.
The Hawaiian Islands used to be called the Sandwich Islands, apparently named for the fourth earl of Sandwich who was also the British first lord of the Admiralty for the duration of the American Revolution which I’m pretty sure we won. His birth name was John Montagu and he had a hugely serious gambling problem. He was also a serious bad boy, involved in graft, bribery and mismanagement of most everything in which he was involved. And, shocker alert, he had a mistress too.
Remember the explorer Captain James Cook? Montagu and Cook were pals and it was Cook who named the Hawaiian archipelago after that crazy gambling fool, his buddy Montagu. Don’t ask me why. In 1762, when Montagu was 44 years old, he one day started to gamble and never stopped for a full 24 hours. Naturally he got hungry but as compulsive addictive folks do, he was loathe to stop gambling thinking the next one would definitely be the mother lode, so he ordered sliced meats and cheeses between pieces of bread be served to him constantly so he could eat with one hand and continue gambling with the other. It only stands to reason that these original fast-food items be named after him; sandwiches. Well, actually it doesn’t, but that’s what happened. I’d have thought they’d be named “Montagus” but no, they were “sandwiches” from then on. There’s no record of John Montagu’s being able to quit gambling and besides, doing that would not have afforded him immortality as the alleged creator of the sandwich. And think about it; wouldn’t it have sounded weird if you offered your kids a PBJ Montagu?
Actually, I think way, way before this Montagu gambling marathon, the Romans may have partaken of such snacks, but that’s for someone else to sort out.
The Egyptians lay claim to inventing bread around 2600 BC and the Germans centuries later discovered how to make rye bread so strong and hard and awful it was called ”pumpernickel” and yes it was used in the making of sandwiches. Still is. Would you be interested in learning the translation of that name? It’s a little gross but a lot funny so here goes. Sorry if I offend. “Pumper” means to break wind. Nickel meant “the devil.” Thus, the German’s hard, dark sour rye bread was considered so impossible to digest there were those who insisted this bread could even make Satan break wind. Nasty.
There’s nothing like a little bread humor to brighten one’s day, am I right? You’re welcome.
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