Do you fancy a sandwich?

Piccole letture in chiave umoristica e/o filosofica

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Everybody knows what a sandwich is: a bit of food – traditionally cold meat and perhaps some cheese – tucked in between two slices of bread. But where does the name sandwich come from? Well, the story goes that the sandwich was the brainchild of a certain John Montagu (1718-1792), the 4th Earl of Sandwich, a prominent statesman and staunch supporter of the Patriot Whigs, a political faction strongly opposed to the government of Robert Walpole in the first half of the 18th century. Apart from his lifelong dedication to politics, John Montagu was also a very keen gambler who spent long hours at the card table. Such was his passion for cards – in particular cribbage – that he did not want to abandon the card table even when it was time for a meal. He cleverly resolved this problem by ordering his servants to fetch him some slices of cold meat between two slices of bread. In this way he was able to continue playing cards without needing a knife and fork and without getting his fingers greasy. His fellow players, impressed with his idea, also began to order, “the same as Sandwich,” and so the sandwich was born.


John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich
by Thomas Gainsborough

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Author: Tony

Born and raised in Malaysia between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Educated at Wycliffe College in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, England. Living in the foothills of Mount Etna since 1982 and teaching English at Catania University since 1987.

7 thoughts on “Do you fancy a sandwich?”

  1. So cool! I liked it… And the town of Sandwich does exist!!
    Therefore I must confess that I don’t really fancy this kind of sandwich (pan carre),I prefer the “submarine sandwich” the one with the baguette and so many delicious things in it.


    1. Hi Nadine! Fancy meeting you here!
      Do you mean “however” instead of “therefore”? I guess so. And it is better.
      I agree with you about “pan carré”. Bleah!
      I think the “submarine sandwich” that you refer to would be called a “roll” in English. “Sandwiches” are made with “pan carré” and “rolls” are made with “panini”. 🙂


    1. Thanks Moira. It’s just one of those stories that English children hear about at school or at home. Passed on mostly by word of mouth (passaparola).

      N.B. Careful with your question, Moira. “Where are you read?” is not correct. Perhaps you mean, “Where did you read it?” 🙂


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