That Thing You Eat: The History and Relationship of Sandwich and Hawaii

By N Mark Castro

Most everyone in the known world find comfort in one of the fastest meals to prepare: The Sandwich.

Ancient times have also revealed that similar meals had been scooped or wrapped in small amounts of food en route from platter to mouth throughout Western Asia and northern Africa. From Morocco to Ethiopia to India, bread is baked in flat rounds, contrasting with the European loaf tradition.

But the first time it was named sandwich was back in 1726, when John Montagu, the fourth earl of Sandwich, inadvertently invented it.

According to stories, John Montagu was a heavy gambler who spent endless hours playing cribbage and kept asking his valet for bread, cheese, and meat. The first written usage of the English word appeared in Edward Gibbon‘s journal, in longhand, referring to “bits of cold meat” as a “Sandwich”, while the other players began to order “the same as Sandwich!”

It is said that Lord Sandwich was fond of this form of food because it allowed him to continue playing cards while eating without getting his cards greasy from eating meat with his bare hands. It is said that he kept the cards in one hand and used the other one to eat, so he thought about placing the cheese and the meat between the slices of bread.

John Montagu 4th Earl of Sandwich

But our story does not end there, apparently, this philandering husband had also managed to acquire so many government positions without effecting any impact whatsoever. Sandwich retired in 1782. Despite the number of important posts that he held during his career, Sandwich’s incompetence and corruption inspired the suggestion that his epitaph should read:

“Seldom has any man held so many offices and accomplished so little.”

Which reminds me of so many Philippine and Indonesian publicly elected and appointed officials.

But part of what would forever sear Lord Sandwich into the annals of history was his great support of Captain James Cook.

As First Lord of the Admiralty, Sandwich approved Admiralty funds for the purchase and fit-out of the ResolutionAdventure and Discovery for Cook’s second and third expeditions of exploration in the Pacific Ocean.

In honour of Sandwich, Captain Cook named the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii) after him, as well as Montague Island off the south east coast of Australia, theSouth Sandwich Islands in the Southern Atlantic Ocean and Montague Island in the Gulf of Alaska.

So as you can see, Lord Sandwich had more impact than most of the politicians that had ever lived. Not only has he given birth to my favorite meal, he also managed to imprint his name in global geography despite his incompetence.

That, to me, is a career path.

All this, of course, I discovered while wondering where the hell my food came from … and if I should run for public office too.

2013-04-24 16.28.08

 

About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the chief political communications strategist for PT AsiaLeads, a political and communications policy-making body based in Jakarta, Indonesia. He is also the Executive Director at the Southeast Asia Consulting Group, an investment advisory company assisting clients roll out their presence for the ASEAN Economic Integration in partnership with government. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on April 24, 2013, in Food, General, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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