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August 7th, 2012

Things you may not know about Covent Garden #61: the birthplace of the sandwich

Things you may not know about Covent Garden #61: the birthplace of the sandwich

Mmmmmm... sandwiches...

As we settle in and get to know the area around our new UK office, we’re working our way around the huge number of sandwich shops, bakeries and cafés in the neighbourhood. And what a choice – on our doorstop there’s everything from French-influenced chains including Le Pain Quotidien, Patisserie Valerie, Paul and the Prompt-appreciated Prêt à Manger, to friendly well-stocked independents such as Scott’s Sandwich Bar and Notes Music & Coffee. There’s cake, coffee and sandwiches suitable for every taste bud.

But did you know that Covent Garden lays claim to being the first place where a ‘sandwich’ was ever served? In 1762 John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, a keen gambler, is believed to have ordered a ‘slab of meat’ between two pieces of bread at an exclusive society club called the Beef Steak Club, at the Shakepeare’s Head pub (sadly destroyed in the Fire of 1808). Apparently the bread was to protect the Earl’s hands, and so his cards, from the grease of the meat.

Today, as I type this at my lunch, the sandwich still serves the same basic purpose. Although I don’t have a pack of cards to hand, I can scribble notes about that press launch, take calls from a client, tweet and type without getting any grease onto my keyboard. It’s just a shame that the Earl isn’t around in 2012 – he may have created a foodstuff that didn’t leave crumbs in the keyboard…

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