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February 15 , 2010


A Global History


The humble peanut butter and jelly or bologna and cheese or corned beef on rye—no matter your cooking expertise, chances are you’ve made and eaten countless sandwiches in your lifetime. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s open to infinite variety and inventiveness. If there’s something bread- or bun-like in your cupboard, there is a sandwich waiting to happen.

Though sandwiches are a near-universal food, their origin can be traced to a very precise historical figure: John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, who, sometime before 1762 being too busy to stop for dinner, asked for some cold beef to be brought to him between two slices of bread. In Sandwich, award-winning food writer Bee Wilson unravels the mystery of how the Earl invented this most elementary but delicious way of eating. Wilson explores what sandwiches might have been like before the eighteenth century, why the name sandwich stuck, and how the Earl’s invention took off so quickly around the globe.

Wilson brings together a wealth of material to trace how the sandwich has evolved, looking at sandwiches around the world, from the decadent meatball hoagie to the dainty cucumber tea sandwich. Loved the world over, this popular food has surprisingly never before been the subject of a book-length history until now.

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