While British cuisine may be most associated with dishes like fish and chips and and bangers and mash, the world over also has the Brits to thank for inventing perhaps the most ubiquitous food item and lunchtime meal staple which celebrates its 250th anniversary this year: the humble sandwich.
Between May 12 and 19, Brits will celebrate this milestone with British Sandwich Week, paying homage to the man believed to have created the portable, one-handed meal that could be described as, well, the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Legend has it that in 1762, during a high-stakes 24-hour gambling streak, the 4th Earl of Sandwich John Montagu called for some cuts of beef to be brought to him between slices of bread so that he could continue playing one-handed.
Soon, after seeing the convenience of being able to eat a meal on the go without losing their hand, other gamblers followed suit, popularizing what we now know as the modern-day sandwich, a £6 billion (7.5 billion euros) industry in the UK.
The tale is remarkably similar to the supposed origins of maki or sushi rolls in Japan which, folklore has it, originated in Japanese gambling dens or ‘tekka.' To continue playing, gamblers likewise began wrapping seaweed around logs of rice so they could eat one-handed.
Meanwhile, to help mark the occasion, the British Sandwich Association is releasing new sandwich recipes every month until the end of the year. The sarnie for the month of May? Roast beef, of course.
The historic town of Sandwich in Kent, meanwhile, is also hosting a two-day festival May 12-13 that will see sandwich versus baguette throwdowns and sandwich making competitions.
More information is available at http://www.lovesarnies.com.