One of my earliest memories is of eating marmalade sandwiches on Charmouth beach. When we lived in Yeovil Mum would sometimes get us up very early on a sunny morning, make a packed breakfast (a flask of tea, hard boiled eggs and marmalade sandwiches) and we would drive to Charmouth for breakfast on the beach. Because it was so early we would have the beach to ourselves and plenty of time for pottering about in the rock pools (Charmouth has brilliant rock pools when the tide is out), paddling and building sandcastles – you have to go to Charmouth for really decent sand on the Jurassic coast. Paddington Bear would have been proud of us, but I think we would have received a hard stare if the marmalade sandwiches had contained real sand! I think I favour brown bread for a marmalade sandwich – something a bit gnarly like wholemeal to hang on to the marmalade.
Another early memory is of my conversion to tomato sandwiches. When I was very young I didn’t like tomato sandwiches. However, on a trip to the zoo with my grandparents, I discovered that I had been sitting on a packet of tomato sandwiches during the car journey. Because they had been compressed, the tomato juice had soaked into the white bread and they had become quite warm! I felt rather guilty for creating a bum-shaped impression in the sandwiches so I ate one. It was yummy! This led to my conversion and to my first two rules of sandwich-making 1) tomatoes are best when they are warm – take them out of the fridge for an hour or two before eating, 2) sandwiches need to be squashed down before slicing them – it helps the fillings combine and encourages tomato juice (if you have tomatoes in the sandwich) to soak into the bread. In this case I favour nice white bread – it seems more absorbent!
The next memory is of the Boxing Day egg sandwiches in front of the James Bond film on TV. Many years ago there was usually a Bond film on in the afternoon on Boxing Day. The family would gather around the TV, there would be a log fire burning in the grate and someone would be volunteered to make some ‘really disgusting’ egg sandwiches for tea. In our family parlance a ‘really disgusting’ sandwich means an untidy, even sloppy, filling packed between two slices of bread – difficult to eat but a taste sensation nonetheless. None of your dainty cucumber triangles here. No, our egg sandwiches were unctuous with salad cream. Third rule of sandwich-making – there should be more filling than bread. The eggs came from Mrs Egg Warren next door so they were fresh and laid locally, with lovely golden yolks. I always enjoyed going to buy eggs from Mrs Warren because I usually got a sweet as well. A buxom rustic wholemeal is good for egg sandwiches as you need a texture to compliment the slippery egg filling.
Of course Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the ‘really disgusting’ turkey sandwich that was eaten later in the day when we had recovered from Christmas lunch. When we were old enough to be allowed to wield the carving knife on our own we would attack the turkey carcass with glee. The best turkey sandwich includes all the gloopy bits of the turkey – jelly and juices, stuffing, odd bits of brown meat from underneath the bird, and, perhaps, some sausagemeat or a sliced chipolata. I like to spread French mustard on the bread but others prefer Mum’s apple chutney. Mayonnaise is also a must for me as I don’t share my parents’ love of salad cream anymore. Once the meat has been selected it is time to balance some salad ingredients on top – tomatoes, lettuce, spring onions, etc. – to give a vague nod towards healthy eating. Then the crucial bit – placing a slice of bread on top and squashing the whole lot down firmly. As described above, this allows the flavours to combine but also means you can fit the sandwich in your mouth! The turkey sandwich always reminds me of one of my favourite episodes of Friends – the one with Ross’s turkey sandwich (though I think it is a post-Thanksgiving sandwich rather than a post-Christmas sandwich). I love the idea of an extra slice of bread soaked in gravy being added in the middle of the sandwich as ‘the moist maker’. I have not tried this because, frankly, cold gravy is not very appealing, but it would probably taste great! White or brown bread? It doesn’t matter for a turkey sandwich as it is all about the filling. A big bap might work well I guess but I haven’t tried that.
I am sure you are full up right now so ‘My Life in Sandwiches – Part II’ follows after a break for digestion. Share your own sandwich-based memories with us by adding a comment or by posting on Facebook. We would love to hear from you.
Photo of an egg sandwich: By jill, jellidonut... whatever from Raleigh, NC, USA [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons