Who, exactly, was the first hungry genius to slap a filling between two slices of bread and call it lunch? Not, as many may think, its infamous namesake, the Earl of Sandwich, an eighteenth century English nobleman who allegedly “invented” it when he demanded a snack to eat while gambling — the bread was to keep his fingers clean. No, food historians say it was Rabbi Hillel, who in the first century B.C. came up with a novel way to eat charoset, the fruit, nut and wine relish that is a key element of the Passover seder. The rabbi found charoset was easier to eat by placing it between two matzohs; these sandwiches also symbolized the stone and mortar construction of the temple.
Fast forward a couple thousand years, and we have the reuben, the BLT and the Fluffernutter. We also have banh mi, croque monsieur and smorbrod — nearly every food culture has its own iconic sandwiches.
We found seven of these international icons right here in Portland. Just in time for lunch.
All photos: Susan Axelrod
Gruyere cheese, French country ham, housemade brioche, Mornay sauce, fines herbes
Housemade roll with chipotle pulled pork, black beans, pickled red onion “drowned” in jalapeno tomato sauce
Sweet sausage with sauteed peppers in housemade bun
Roasted spiced chicken, pickled okra, lettuce tomato and spicy sauce on tandoor bread
Housemade steamed buns, pork belly, gouchujang mayo and pepper relish
Pate, head cheese, ham, cucumber, carrots, onion, cilantro (Kim’s Cafe is at 261 St. John St.)
Top left: radish butter, Lakin’s Gorges Opus 42 cheese, sliced apple, pickled onion, blueberry honey drizzle; top right: housemade pork-liver mousse, pickled honshimeji mushrooms, tomato jam, crispy bacon; bottom left: crab and shrimp salad with avocado, pickled red onion and dill, lemon jam; bottom right: green chili grain mustard, hard boiled egg, house-cured and pickled herring, white onion