National Sandwich Day

National Sandwich Day

November 3 has been deemed National Sandwich Day, so here are some beans for you to brew …

Where does the word “sandwich” come from?  Well, its eponym is a historic town in southeastern England (in the county of Kent).  The story goes that the fourth Earl of Sandwich, John Montague (no relation to Romeo), loved playing cards so much that he didn’t want to stop not even for a bite of lunch.  So rather than putting down his cards or getting his hands messy, he ordered his servants to slap together two slices of bread with some meat and cheese in between them.  The portability of this new serving style made it possible for him to eat with one hand while continuing his game with the other.  Montague’s “invention” became so popular with his friends that it got passed around and, well, it couldn’t help but adopt the moniker of its hometown.

Grilled Cheese & Mushrooms

[Aside: The title of earl, which signifies someone as a member of the nobility, is akin to the Scandinavian word jarl “chieftain”.  An earl is simply someone who rules a bit of territory in place of the monarch.  If you know this awesome cheese (which I love to make grilled-cheese sandwiches with) called Jarlsberg, well it’s your lucky day because you’re about to get a morpheme AND geography lesson all in one.  The name of the cheese comes from the name of the countship of Jarlsberg, Norway.  And the name of this countship comes from jarl “earl” and berg “hill; mountain”.  The town of Sandwich, meanwhile, comes from sand “sand; sandy” and wic “dwelling place; town; harbour” … and it only makes sense, for it is right on the coast.  This aside is making me hungry.]

So, we can’t really credit Montague with the invention of the sandwich though because people have been eating bread, meat, cheese, and veggies together for thousands of years before he came along with his gambling ways.  Think about it for a moment: before the awesomeness of being able to freeze bread before we need to eat it, or to store loaves in plastic bags to keep air and moisture out, people had no choice but to eat the whole baked goodness right away lest it go stale.  Stale bread that’s as hard as plastic would make excellent plates (that would then go on to feed the animals)!  I digress.  Even though Montague wasn’t the first guy to put his ingredients together, he certainly paved the way for students all over the world who now grow up toting bags of sandwiches every single day.

I love grilled-cheese-and-mushrooms and eggplant-parmigiana sandwiches.  But if you want to know the sandwich way to my heart, it’s a hot and buttery lobster roll.  Okay, I really need to start writing these posts after a nice meal.  What’s your favourite sandwich?

Lobster Roll

[From the mixed-up files of: “History of the Sandwich”, “Sandwich, Kent”, and “Jarlsberg Cheese”.]

The Triduum of Allhallowtide

The Triduum of Allhallowtide

Halloween beans for you to brew while you’re slowly eating your way through your pillowcase full o’ bonbons.

Centuries ago in the British Isles, Christians would ask God for protection from all worldly evils on November 1, which came to be known as All Hallows Day.  This practice spread far and wide throughout Europe.

[Aside: Do you remember the title of the final Harry Potter book? The word “hallows” in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows refers to relics, and what better relics are there than those from the beginnings of time and the origins of religions?]

All Hallows Day celebrates Christian saints – real people believed to have led extraordinarily good lives and have, thus, been recognized by the Catholic Church. While churches in North America celebrate this day with only special masses on the first of November, in many countries, All Saints’ Day, as it is now called, is a special holiday. It’s so special, in fact, that it is marked by overnight vigils in cemeteries all over the world. Although this may seem macabre to some, it’s actually a beautiful, unifying, and time-honoured event for many others.

And this whole concept of honouring and praying for the dearly departed doesn’t end on November 1: the next day is also another day of importance, for it is All Souls’ Day. On November 2, many cultures gather together at cemeteries again, leaving flowers and candles on graves, or pouring holy water over them. It is a day during which people remember their loved ones and pray for the souls of all of who have gone before them.

Allhallowtide Triduum

So how does this all tie in to Halloween? Halloween (also written as Hallowe’en) comes from October 31 being All Hallows Eve. All Hallows Eve (Halloween), All Hallows Day (All Saints’ Day), and All Souls’ Day are called the triduum of Allhallowtide.

Do you celebrate any part of Allhallowtide?  Please share.  I’d love to hear about your cultural and familial traditions!

[From the mixed-up files of: Day of the Dead, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day.]