I’ve sort of had enough about writing about football stuff over the last week so I thought I’d focus on something completely different. Sandwiches. Not an obviously rich seam of material you might think. Au contraire mes amis. Yesterday whilst driving back from Henley (after a nice catch up meeting with old friend CR) I caught another of those little jewels of a programme on radio 4. Don’t ask me what programme it was; I only caught it half way through. But it sought to answer the question I’ve long struggled with; what is the correct way to slice and present a sandwich – cut corner to corner producing sandwich triangles or cut mid-way across the slices to produce sandwich oblongs (doorsteps)? What a f*cking brilliant topic.

Now they spun this out for fully 20 minutes and the debate between the two male (obviously!) advocates for the particular shapes was truly wide-ranging. The plummy-voiced guy who was clearly a prick was of the view that it was a socio-demographic thing: the doorstep sandwich very much favoured by northern working class folk whilst the daintier triangle was clearly a product of a more refined, better-educated and more mannered middle class from the Home counties. Knobhead.

There was even a diversionary chat about the butty, a contraction of bread and butter sandwich, which they considered to be truly northern in origin and designed to hold a phalanx of chips or litter of bacon slices, both smothered in HP sauce. Feeling hungry? Anyway they rightly considered that a triangle format would simply not work with these fillings. And since nobody who lived south of Birmingham, could possibly eat such a thing, the logic was that the oblong was clearly devised by uncivilised northeners (and if you’ve never experienced one, poor readers from the south, you don’t know what you’re missing).

Whatever. But it got interesting when they stopped thinking in stereotypes and invited listeners to e-mail them with more logical reasons for the two approaches. Some of the better suggestions included:

– to slice the sandwich from corner to corner was actually a way to create almost perfectly matched halves whereas the across-the-middle slice was roughly gauged and more inaccurate.

– many children have a problem with crusts and to slice the sandwich in triangles created two crusted sides versus the three of the doorstep – hence it would be more appealing to the younger appetite.

– commercial sandwich makers prefer the triangle cut because it creates a bigger ‘edge’ to showcase the filling to accelerate its sale.

– the triangle cut creates two sharp corners per sandwich half making it easier for people with smaller mouths (usually kids, but refined ladeez too) to bite into the sandwich.

All good reasons eh for the triumph of the triangle over the humble doorstep. But if you don’t mind I’m just off to make myself a gloriously oblong chip butty. Oh no we live in Buckinghamshire. D’oh!



2 thoughts on “sandwiches

  1. I don’t care, I’m off to put the bacon on now (grilled of course)
    and if I lay the strips vertically down the bread (…run out of butter, will make do with a smear of mustard) I can still cut diagonally so there.

    Another thing I do to bring light into my young sons lives; is to cut their jam sandwiches diagonally into 4, but slightly on the skew. This is always met with a humouring smile and a raised – oh god dads trying to be different with his interesting sandwiches again – eyebrow. This is a compromise over perception of crust (as mentioned) and the valuable torsional strength provided by even a small length running up the second side. Cut like this they tessellate, crusts back to back, into a really nice bed for beans on toast.

    I know I really do it because I’m the middle class southerner still refusing to be labelled and with pretensions to a working class northern upbringing 😉 Thus I walk my own cold lonely path.


  2. hey pat

    you see, there is a deep need within (some of) us to think about really important issues like this. i like the back-to-back crusts concept and the asymmetrical slices. very radical. you’d be thrown out of the vicars tea party for that – and i know how much you enjoy them.

    keep on cutting

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