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What links a Sandwich with a Kentish town of the same name?

By Lyn Funnell

Tradition says that in 1762 John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich was the first person to order a sandwich. The first story says that he was engrossed in a gambling game and didn’t want to stop to eat, so he asked a valet to prepare some roast beef between two lightly toasted slices of bread.

The second version is that he was busy with his Naval duties and couldn’t leave his desk.

Both versions say that he didn’t want to get his fingers greasy.

I lean towards the gambling version as the sandwich rapidly became popular and people would order ‘The same as Sandwich’ so I think that he was observed eating his meal.

But what is the connection with the town of Sandwich in Kent?

The first Earl, Edward Montague, was in Sandwich because his fleet of ships was waiting there to bring back Charles ll to England in 1660. So he was made the Earl of Sandwich.

The 4th Earl of Sandwich was a colourful character. He was a Member of the notorious Hellfire Club, who took part in drunken orgies and lots of other dark pastimes.

He had as many as 9 children with his mistress, Martha Ray. But he was also a very active politician.

Captain James Cook named the Sandwich Islands (which became Hawaii) after the 4th Earl, who was his financial Patron.

Here is my version of the original Sandwich. I’ve researched it and made it as authentic as I can.

But even if it’s not the completely original Sandwich, it’s delicious!

The Georgians didn’t have snacks, although they would have bowls of nibbles and sweetmeats around them all day. So the Earl’s sandwich would have been large, well-filled, and a substitute for a meal. I don’t think the valet would have just stuck some meat between two slices of bread. I think he would have made the sandwich as attractive and as filling  to eat as he could.

Spread 2 large thick slices of bread with butter. I sued sourdough bread.

Butter was well-known in Georgian times.

Next, spread a layer of chutney or relish over the bread.

Pickles, chutneys and relishes had been around at least since the 1600s. I used my home-made Pumpkin Chutney.

Add 1 0r 2 slices of corned beef.

The Earl would probably have been given salt beef as there was no refrigeration to preserve the meat. Corned beef is salt beef with gelatine added.

Top with a flavoursome cheese.

I used Organic Sussex Velvet, a semi-soft mature cheese, made in High Weald Dairy in Horsted Keynes. The cheese melted perfectly.

Toast the bread until a light golden and the cheese has just begun to melt.

The Earl’s sandwich would have been toasted on the fire as George Forman hadn’t invented his grill then! If you don’t own a sandwich grill, toast it under the grill on the cooker.

Cut the sandwich in half and make sure the inside isn’t too hot to eat – and you probably won’t get greasy fingers!