Ah, the sandwich. Although some of our international friends might disagree, there’s really no lunch experience more appealing than biting into a good sandwich. And although some of our American friends might disagree, the United States does not have a monopoly on sandwiches.
But what are the other types of sandwiches of the world? You won’t find any PB&J or bologna on this list, because sandwiches are a serious matter, and there’s simply too much potential to waste it on mediocre eats.
It may be hard to quantify what sandwiches are truly the most popular, but we at The Daily Meal won’t let that put a damper on our article (or our lunch). Without further ado, here are five of the most popular sandwiches in the world.
Although the term bánh mì actually refers to all kinds of bread, it is commonly used to refer to a specific type of sandwich in Vietnam. Made with a small loaf of French bread (thanks, colonialism), the ingredients generally include thinly-sliced pork or pork belly, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, jalapeños, cilantro, and mayonnaise. Sometimes spreadable pâté is also added, further adding to the fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisines.
Quick, name a Cuban food! If the first thing you thought of was a Cuban sandwich, then you’ve confirmed my theory that this is by far the most famous Cuban food around (or you read the heading). In fact, it’s probably the best thing to come out of Cuba that’s not a fine cigar or a baseball phenom. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Cuban immigrants invented the sandwich while living in Florida, but that doesn’t really matter here. What matters is Cuban bread (similar to French or Italian), roast pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese, thinly-sliced dill pickles, and mustard. Call it a Cubano, call it a Cuban mix, or even call it a mixto… just order it already!
The Middle Eastern food known as falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas — or, in Egypt, fava beans. Although it’s perfectly fine to eat this food all by itself, it is frequently served nestled inside a pita. Squeeze in some lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, or any other garnishes, and add some tahini (a condiment made from toasted ground sesame seeds), and it’s ready to eat. As for the preparation of the falafel itself, ingredients like parsley, scallions, garlic, cumin, and coriander are also sometimes used. Although Egypt, Israel, and Palestine have had their disagreements in the past, there’s one thing they all agree on: Falafel is worthy of being a national dish.
This is a sandwich that’s probably familiar to everybody. Two slices of bread with cheese in the middle, slapped onto a grill. Simple and satisfying. The best thing about grilled cheese, however, is that it can be adapted based on the local cuisine or personal preferences. In the U.S., grilled cheese often consists of a couple slices of packaged American cheese between two slices of bread. The options are really endless though. Try an imported cheese, or adding another ingredient or two to the middle, like bacon or avocado. Other countries also have their own version of grilled cheese, or different names for it. In France, you could order a croque monsieur (ham and cheese on Brioche-like bread) or a croquet madame (the same, but with a fried egg on top). In England, they also have a simple version of grilled cheese, but it’s called a “toastie.” Ditto for Australia, where they’re called “jaffles.” It doesn’t really matter what you call it, or what the exact ingredients are, as long as there’s melty, delicious cheese inside.
I don’t want to be a stickler here, but doesn’t a sandwich, by definition, actually have to be sandwiching something? Isn’t, then, an “open-faced sandwich” really an oxymoron? Dictionary be damned; we’ll let it slide this time, because smørrebrød is not only incredibly popular in Scandinavia, but it’s also quite delicious. Depending on where you’re eating your sandwich — be it Denmark, Norway, or Sweden — the ingredients can vary quite a bit, but expect to see everything from eel to smoked salmon to roast pork or beef, with toppings like onion, cabbage, lettuce, and tomato. As for the bread, white can be used, but dark rye is the standard.