20 – 27 May British sandwich week
Most of us don’t really relate sandwiches to anything glorious. When I think of a sandwich I think of a dull cloudy day and there I am, snuggled in front of my desk at work, eating a boring sandwich that I made before going to sleep last night. I can’t be the only one feeling this way, right?
Like it or not though, sandwiches are an important part of the British cuisine as they originate from England. The tale tells that the first sandwich was invented by John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. Bank in 1742 Sir Earl of Sandwich was a very keen gambler and so had to have his head in the game at all times. This is why, on a regular gambling weekend away, he asked his servant to prepare such food that would not interfere with his precious hobby.
A bit puzzled, the cook couldn't think of anything that won't require knife and fork but eventually, the genius idea was born. The chef served Sir Sandwich, a thinly sliced beef between two pieces of toast, hoping that this will be easy enough to eat whilst busy with his master gambling.
Little did he know that this simple invention will overtake the 21st centurary as one of the most bought fast-foods and become a £8.1 billion industry. It is believed that in Britain solely, we consume over 3,500,000 sandwiches per year. Probably half of these are eaten during Sandwich Week.
Although the food was named after Earl of Sandwich, today we use many different words to describe the go-to food – baps, sarnies, butties, barms sangas and much more.
We all need to give sandwiches a bit more credit though. They are everyone’s go-to food. Whether you are in a rush, or you are tired or hungover and just want food that will soak up last night’s mistakes - sandwiches are always there for us.
But we shouldn't only relate them with sad experiences because they can be a meltingly delicious food. This is the thought that two sisters, who are very passionate about all-things-cheese and toasties, have had. In their little food truck ironically called The Big Melt, they wheel away around London and the areas to bring joy to hungry cheese lovers. We spoke to them to find out what makes sandwich eating an experience?
Where does your passion for food (toasties) comes from?
The melted cheese was always our go-to snack when growing up. It was always cheese on toast, toasties... We didn’t even discuss other food options, it just had to be grilled cheese!
How did you decide to work together?
We’d spoken for years of running our own street food business and when we both left our jobs around the same time to have families, we decided it was the perfect chance to give our street food dream a try.
Are you using family recipes and what’s your inspiration for the sandwiches?
We love our recipe trial days experimenting with new fillings and use the food and flavours from our childhood as inspiration to creating amazing melts. At the moment we’re perfecting our roastie-toastie Melt!
Their selection of toasties is small, but this doesn’t reflect the quality. All their sarnies are just the right amount of crispy with the perfect proportion of cheesy. At The Big Melt, you can find pizza toastie made with sourdough bread pepperoni, passata, Keen’s cheddar buffalo mozzarella and topped with rocket and anything topped with gooey melted cheese.
What’s your favourite toastie and why?
Our favourite is a loaded Mac ‘N’ Cheese Melt. Our Mac ‘N’ Cheese comes with add-ons of Caramelised Onion and British Oak Smoked Bacon... Because why not?
What do you think it’s the most important thing to creating a good sandwich?
You can put almost anything into a toastie as long as you have the bread and cheese right. We use a sourdough which crisps nicely and holds the filling well and quality British cheeses in our blend.
So the secret to a great sandwich seems to be very simple - quality cheese and sourdough bread. If you are craving toastie after reading this as much as I am while writing it, then here is the full menu of The Big Melt and where to find them.