The sandwich, history tells us, was invented in the eighteenth century by a guy too busy running the British navy to leave his office for a leg of overdone mutton or some nice, home-cooked calves’ brains. Also, he was an earl. So when he asked for two pieces of bread with “something chewy in the middle” to be delivered to his desk, people didn’t look at him as if he’d just proposed leasing London to the French. They jumped to it, shouting, “You heard the man! Bread! Sliced meat! On the double!”
Circumstances were not so favorable for the twenty-first-century suburban dad who may have devised the single most important modification of the sandwich to date. One day this complex and mysterious figure opened the refrigerator to find some of its usual contents lacking.
“Looks like we’re having bread sandwiches for lunch!” he announced to the three kids peering into the depths of the empty meat tray along with him.
“Don’t they always have bread?” one of the kids asked warily.
“Daddy means they only have bread,” said his older sister in a tone suggesting she’d been down this sort of road before with Daddy.
“What law says a sandwich has to have something in the middle? If a donut had something in the middle, it still wouldn’t be a sandwich, would it?”
There was silence and then a counterproposal. “Mommy said to tell you we could have turkey burgers.”
“That sounds,” the dad said gravely, “like something we’d need to cook.”
“Not really. You just turn on the microwave. The way you do with those frozen, star-shaped things.”
“You mean my recipe for Chicken D’etoile?”
History is silent about what exactly happened next. But all the evidence points to the kids going on to lead healthy and productive lives. Meanwhile the dad was left to face his wife when she came home.
“The only reason,” he defended himself to her, “that we think of a sandwich in a certain way is because hundreds of years ago everyone started saying they wanted to have what Sandwich was having. Isn’t it about time for some creative variations?”
“What happened to you in the kitchen? Didn’t you used to be able to make crepes?”
“Let’s not romanticize the crepes. There were some creative variations there too. I left out the flour once, and Mario Batali gave me you-know-what. The kids are a lot more open-minded.”
In fact, later that week the same dad caught one of his sons eating a “Nutella sandwich” right out of a jar.
“Where’s the bread?” he asked, glancing back and forth between the kitchen counter on which his son was standing and the unopened loaf.
“What law says a sandwich has to have bread?”
None that the dad could think of, and he’d once flirted with the idea of taking the LSAT. Never mind the Chicken D’etoile he was about to go to all the trouble of nuking. He’d have what his son was having.