John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich,
is credited with inventing the sandwich.
A "sammitch" was something my grandmother gave us kids to shut us up when we were hungry.
Nana – Nova Scotian for grandma – had 10 children and about 40 grandchildren. At any given point in time there were a dozen of us living with her in her tiny house on a small, rocky cove outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In Nana's house one of us was always saying, "Nana, I'm hungry." She would invariably reply, "Have yourself a nice jam sammitch." Her jam sammitches are still a fond memory – cool, rich butter spread on Nana's home-baked bread and home-made jam.
The only help Nana ever got was from grandad's three sisters. They were nuns who would take time from the convent to visit and help with the chores.
Grandad used to call his sisters "The Three Sorrowful Mysteries."
He would post kids along the road as lookouts for their coming. When alerted, he and his cronies would run off into the woods.
Grandad also had individual nicknames for the sisters. I believe it was "Sister Miserable Immortality" that finally taught me that a sammitch was actually pronounced and spelled sandwich.
Notwithstanding the niceties of grammar and spelling, in our family a sandwich is still a sammitch to this day.
The actual invention of the sandwich is credited to John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, in the latter half of the 1700s.
The Earl ran the British post office for a while, but mostly he tried to diminish his family's considerable estates by drinking and gambling all day.
He and grandad would have gotten along like gangbusters.
The Earl would get so intent on drinking and gambling that he would not – or could not – get up from the gaming table even to eat. Resourceful and privileged, the Earl would get a servant to bring him a slab of salted meat between two pieces of bread so that he could dine without leaving the card table. The Earl of Sandwich had invented the sandwich.
Here on the Island we are fortunate to have access to a number of truly memorable local "sammitches".
Hurricane Hank's has just started cooking its own corned beef brisket from scratch. The result is a phenomenal classic Reuben.
The western extremities of Cortez Road have become something of a sammitch Mecca. Treat yourself to the chicken sandwich at Dandrea's. Chef-owner Andrea Rasmussen builds her acclaimed chicken sandwich with a plump breast off the grill, finishes it with chevres and fig jam and serves it on a warm ciabatta roll.
Another great Cortez sammitch destination is Jose's at 8799 Cortez Road, about a mile from the bridge, across from the 7-11 (with the limousine out front). Go soon because Jose's is about to become nationally famous – this month the TV guys are shooting Jose's as a feature on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives for the Food Channel.
Jose's Cuban-pulled pork is truly awesome as a platter with black beans, fried plantains, and rice. It also makes his Cuban sandwich unbeatable. The sandwich's Cuban authenticity is verified by the ever-present, and ever-charming, Jose. There are only about twenty seats, but service is quick so there is hardly ever a wait. The action is best at the counter stools. Ask Jose to show you his Fidel Castro toilet paper.
Savor one of these great local sammitches, think gratefully of the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, and appreciate that good things can come from drinking and gambling.