'Death and Sandwiches'

December 2019, no. 417

'Death and Sandwiches'

December 2019, no. 417


Two hundred and fifty-four years before the first hour, John Montagu, the fourth earl of Sandwich, was gambling.

Unwilling to break up the game in order to eat properly, Montagu ordered his servants to bring him a meal comprising meat between two slices of bread. This unorthodox culinary innovation inspired his friends in subsequent gambling sessions to order similar. Thus, the sandwich was born. Scholars in the field of sandwich studies, however, have traced earlier incarnations of this type of meal throughout England in the late-medieval and early-modern periods, primarily through the assessment of popular culture. Plays of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries make references to ‘bread and meat’ and ‘bread and cheese’. Corporal Nym in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor utters the line, ‘I love not the humour of bread and cheese.’ While Montagu gave his name to the sandwich, it cannot be claimed with any confidence that he invented it. Montagu would go on to be the First Lord of the Admiralty during the American War of Independence. While Britain lost the war, sandwiches would flourish in the United States, becoming ever more elaborate and cleaving to regional distinctions and names – a culinary delight that was suitable for, and could be adapted to, any occasion, even ceremonies of farewell for deceased loved ones.


The day before the first hour, Emma was tired.

She became more tired as the day progressed, but she had been sick before. In the evening, I took her to hospital.

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Comments (2)

  • Enjoyed Andrew's story very much. Poignant and perceptive. Suspect I may have been more open to the subject matter having had to go through the funeral process following a death that was too close to my heart. Somehow the story helped, an escape portal, just one of the reasons literature exists.
    Posted by Alex Fenton
    Friday, 11 October 2019 09:06
  • Thank you. Moving and very well told.
    Posted by Sara Vidal
    Friday, 11 October 2019 00:09

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