Grilled cheese. Ham and cheese. Meatball sub. Turkey club. Sandwiches are an essential part of America's lunchtime, and the ingredients shoved between two slices of bread can be as varied as one’s imagination. But sandwiches aren’t exclusive to the U.S. They continue across the globe with the Chilean barros luco, or a beef steak and melted cheese sandwich; the French croque monsieur, made with ham and cheese; and the Chinese donkey burger, which is relatively self-explanatory.
The sandwich as we know it reportedly comes from an English minister of state’s lazy snack request in the late 1700s. The anecdote isn’t proven true, but according to French writer Pierre-Jean Grosley in his book Londres, John Montagu, also known as the fourth Earl of Sandwich, invented the snack as a way to sustain his gaming habit when he played for over 24 hours (he chose roast beef as the sandwich’s filling).
Although Montagu might have boosted the sandwich’s popularity, according to PBS the original “sandwich” might have been invented around 110 B.C. by Hillel the Elder when he suggested bitter herbs inside unleavened matzo bread for Jewish Passover.
Wherever the sandwich originated, here are 12 iconic ones from around the world.
Additional reporting by Sevusha Govender