National Sandwich Day on Friday, November 3, is a great day to celebrate the grab-and-go lunch staple that appears at many event mid-day meals. The convenient treat dates back to 18th century England when John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, enjoyed putting beef between a few slices of bread while playing cards with his friends. Impressed, they began asking for the “same as Sandwich,” and thus the dish was termed.
Throughout the years its popularity has endured, but the sandwich model has adopted many new forms. Each culture puts a unique spin on this basic, but brilliant, model. No matter what you like in between the bread, the comfort of a sandwich is irresistible. Here are a few sandwiches takes from around the world to inject some delicious culture into your next meeting or event. And if you find yourself in these countries, we highly recommend seeking out these delicacies.
1. Banh Mi (Vietnam)
Originating as a street snack in Vietnam, the Banh Mi has become a popular sandwich throughout the world. The sandwich traditionally consists of a meat (pork usually), vegetables (often pickled), jalapeños and coriander in a baguette. Yet, the Vietnamese baguette is made with rice and wheat flour, so it’s airier than the French bread.
2. Vada Pav (India)
Also called a Bombay Burger, Vada Pav is a great option for vegetarians and vegans. The meatless dish is basically a bun filled with deep fried potato dumplings, topped with chutney and a green chili pepper.
3. Doubles (Trinidad and Tobago)
Although the sandwich is typically lunchtime street food, many in Trinidad and Tobago many eat it for breakfast. Doubles consists of two fried and flat pieces of bread, filled with chickpeas and topped with a sauce made of local cilantro, cucumber, coconut, tamarind, mango and pepper sauce.
4. Doner Kebab (Turkey)
Originated in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century and now immensely popular in Turkey, the Doner Kebab is made of meat (beef, lamb, chicken or veal) cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Similar to a gyro and shawarma, the meat is slowly cooked, heavily seasoned and thinly sliced. The meat is stuffed into a pita with vegetables such as onions, pickled cucumber, lettuce and tomatoes.
5. Chacarero (Chile)
To make a Chacarero, place thinly sliced pork or steak in a bread roll with tomatoes, chili peppers and green beans. The Chilean sandwich is often served at fast food restaurants and beer draught houses.
6. Arepa (Venezuela and Columbia)
In Venezuela, the Arepa is a chewy, crispy flatbread sandwich stuffed with a variety of meats (or plantains), cheese, avocado—essentially any ingredients that can be found in a taco. Arepas are served throughout South America, but in Columbia they are typically stuffed with chorizo and chili sauce.
7. Croque Monsieur (France)
This sandwich is extra cheesy—and not just on the inside. This French classic is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, using Emmental or Gruyere cheese, that’s covered on the outside with more melted cheese. The name Croque Monsieur, translates to “Mister Crunchy.” The version with an egg on top is called a Croque Madame, “Misses Crunchy.”
8. Smorgastarta (Sweden)
This sandwich takes the cake—literally. The Swedish dish is no average sandwich but a layered mix of food. Designed in a similar fashion to a layered cream cake, ingredients are layered on with creamy fillings (such as egg or mayo) between slices of rye bread. Some popular ingredients used include liver pâté, olives, shrimp, ham and caviar, alternated with tomato, cucumber, grapes, lemon slices, cheese and smoked salmon.
9. Kaya Toast (Singapore)
Similar to French toast, the Singapore delicacy is smothered in butter and kaya jam (egg and coconut milk), then fried. As a popular breakfast meal, many enjoy the dish with a hardboiled egg or dipped in the yolk of a soft boiled egg. Kaya Toast is offered at most coffee shops in Singapore.