Something which almost the entire world, at one point in their lives, will have tried is a rare thing indeed. But the humble sandwich is just that. The colloquial name, the format, the components and the eating style may all differ depending on where in the world you are, but if it is roughly ‘bread, no-bread and bread again’ you know you’re eating a sandwich.
The rise and rise of the sandwich can be used as something of a tracker against the modernisation of civilisation. As the manufacturing techniques, from the harvesting of the wheat to the tools to slice the bread, have developed so have the sandwiches themselves.
It has become a beacon of modern society’s constant need for improvement, innovation but more so, convenience. It can scarcely have escaped the attention of the masses that on every street corner and elsewhere there are more smaller, ‘convenience’ stores representing the biggest FMCG retailers the world has to offer.
As people move around the world, for work or pleasure, so culinary trends and traditions become embedded into other societies. The banh mi – wonderful charcuterie and Vietnamese pickles on a fresh baguette – sandwich may never have been known to western civilisation were it not for the French taking to Indochina.
Visitors to Colombia have been acknowledged for presenting us less seasoned travellers with the rather distinctive perro caliente – a hot dog type of food often dressed with pineapple, potato chips and, on occasion, raspberry jam no less!
A sandwich can be more evocative, more reflective of any place than a simply photo and for many, reliving the memories of an exquisite sandwich is much more fun than flicking through a dusty photo album.
In the following we highlight the most luxurious sandwiches in the world that you should indulge in should you ever find yourself in that particular part of the planet.
Hand-Massaged Wagyu Beef on White Bread, Japan
Found served at Shima in Tokyo, where over-ordering is a frequent ‘curse’, the highly reputable Chef Oshima will carve any excess Wagyu and form a succulent white bread sandwich for you to include in your take-home bento box.
Beef and Foie Gras Sandwich, UK
Of course, the UK does a fairly good sandwich and Chef Scott McDonald at Selfridges quickly became famous for creating an £85 sandwich containing wagyu beef, fresh lobe foie gras, black truffle mayonnaise, brie de meaux, rocket, red pepper, mustard confit and English plum tomatoes.
If you want to try the quintessential English Afternoon tea experience where a wider variety of sandwiches are on offer, you could do no better than enjoying this set in the wonderful surroundings of ‘old England’ itself, Oxford.
Crab Sandwich, Hong Kong
Hullet House Hotel, found in Hong Kong, created the ultimate club sandwich featuring a raft of expensive ingredients including Beluga caviar, one of the costliest caviars in the world, to Balik salmon. With three slices of bread, the list of ingredients continues with Spanish ham, figs from Belgium and French chicken.
Smorgastasta can be found nationally across Sweden but for one of the country’s best offerings, one must go to the Grand Hotel in Stockholm. The name, smorgastarta, actually translates to ‘sandwich cake’ in English and is made by layering rye bread with creamy fillings including liver pâté, olives, shrimp, ham, and caviar. Also, tomato, cucumber, grapes, lemon slices, and cheese. And smoked salmon.
With the blank canvas that a sandwich presents, chefs and restaurateurs have run amok with options and variety – there is precious little you cannot find in a sandwich these days. A sandwich of truly epic proportions often deserves a similar surrounding and, with the above options, you don’t have far to look for inspiration.
Whether it is enjoying life in the modern, clean cut city of Tokyo, exploring every corner of historic Stockholm or sitting back in the afternoon sun in Oxford, the sandwich is the ideal companion – something that cannot be said for everything, or indeed, everyone.