Five great reasons to love sandwiches and five great sandwiches to love

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Sandwiches may just be the best lunchtime food around

The sandwich is a rarity in the world of food, both a humble lunchtime snack and a luxurious treat-day favourite; it stands out as a giant in the food world.

It can be served up at breakfast, lunch or dinner, it could be plain - just ham between two slices of white bread - fancy - smoked wild salmon served on rye - hot or cold, whatever your preference, the sandwich is anything but simple.

As it is National Sandwich week between the 11th and 17th May and in honour of its versatility, variety and general greatness, we have put together a list of five reasons why the sandwich is so darn good, along with five awesome sandwiches you just have to try.

1. So many different things can be called a sandwich

"A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet," wrote Shakespeare. Whether you call them butties, toasties, baps, barm cakes or just simply sandwiches, they have the potential bring a little bit of joy to your working lunch break.

Essentially a sandwich is meat within two bits of bread and is named after John Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich who reportedly liked bread with his meat so he could continue playing cards without needing a fork. Call them what you like, there's no denying sandwiches offer a great deal of variety at lunch time.

2. You can put anything in them

If you've got bread then you really are most of the way there already. All you need to do is open the fridge and grab whatever takes your fancy.

Whether your tastes are simple and you just go for cheese and pickle, or unique and you decide on mashed banana and chocolate spread, the world is your unusual-sandwich-filled oyster.

Test your pallet, work out some new flavour combinations, become a sandwich-making maverick.

3. You can name them after yourself

The great thing about coming up with a weird sandwich combination which works, is the fact you can name it after yourself; there aren't many everyday meals you can say that about.

If you make a spectacular spaghetti bolognaise which gains you compliments and praise, that's all well and good but at the end of the day it's still going to be called a spag bol.

If you take to the kitchen and fill a focaccia loaf with Parma ham, white asparagus, grilled halloumi and pesto and find it tastes good, well if you want to call it 'Phil's fantastic focaccia,' then go for it Phil, you've earned that right.

4. You can get them ANYWHERE

Ever sat down at lunchtime and thought, "Hmm, I really fancy some steamed dumplings but I'm pretty sure the work canteen won't have them"? Now have you ever sat down anywhere and worried about a sandwich shortage? No, thought not.

Don't get us wrong, we know canteen sandwiches aren't always the greatest thing around but at least they are always around.

If you fancy a quick bite and you're on the go then you can spend the day safe in the knowledge you're never too far from a sarnie.

5. They are easy to transport

Eating tandoori chicken on the move would be a tricky, messy, fork is essential, type affair if it wasn't for sandwiches. With the help of two bits of bread you can eat messy, brightly coloured food stuffs to your heart's content, safe in the knowledge your hands will be protected and you won't need cutlery.

However, although sandwiches give you the freedom to eat tandoori chicken wherever you like, maybe give that one a miss on the Tube. Being 'that' person with the smelly snacks in an enclosed space is not cool. Risk it at your own peril if you wish to feel the glare from a hoard of angry commuters.

And now, here are five of our favourite sandwiches of all time.

The Reuben

Hot sliced corned beef topped with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing served on toasted buttered rye bread.

The Reuben

Before you get all British about it and start envisioning chunks of tinned corned beef, stop. When the American's hear corned beef, they picture thin slices of hot, soft, salty beef brisket and as long as you can find a good quality deli then you'll find some.

There are three separate sources claiming to be the original creator of the Reuben, a deli owner whipping up a snack for an actress, a grocer who created it during a card game and an inventor who won a sandwich idea contest with it.

Whoever created it would want you to give it a try, so go find some corned beef and pile that sauerkraut nice and high.

Fish finger

Thick cut ciabatta, hot, breaded, deep-fried fish fingers, tartar sauce and lettuce.

Fish finger

Fish fingers aren't just for kids, if you serve them between two big chunky pieces of ciabatta they are definitely a very grown up treat.

The Americans - as is so often the case - claim responsibility for this creation but as it was just after World War II that restaurants began serving fried fish and chips in the US, it's fair to say the British influence clearly left a mark.

By the 60s fish fillet sandwiches had become pretty popular in America, so popular in fact a certain restaurant (McDonalds) added a version to its menu.

Bacon

Thick-cut smoked bacon, buttered sliced white bread and either tomato or brown sauce.

Bacon

Saturday morning without a cup of tea and a big old bacon sandwich is like Sunday afternoon without a roast, just plain wrong.

The perfect bacon sandwich consists of thick-sliced white bread, thick-cut smoked bacon, a slick of real butter and just a touch of tomato sauce.

Some will opt for brown sauce and that's fine too, just as long as the bacon is good quality and the bread is fresh, you can't really go too far wrong.

The great thing about the bacon sandwich is its simplicity. Bacon, like cheese, is so often added as an extra to burgers or sandwiches, but most of the time it manages to steal the limelight and so it should, bacon is a tough meat to beat.

Steak and onion

A sub roll, sliced steak, caramelised onions, buttery sautéed mushrooms and sliced green peppers.

Steak and onion

Steak. Juicy, flavoursome, delicious steak, heaped into a soft, floury sub roll, topped with gloriously sweet, caramelised onions. Our mouths are watering at the thought.

Louis Lassen is credited as the creator of the first steak sandwich in 1930 at his restaurant Louis' Lunch. A gentleman walked into the restaurant and asked for something he could eat in a rush, Louis put a blend of steak trimmings between two slices of toasted bread and voila, steak sandwiches (and hamburgers) were born.

We like ours served medium rare, topped with caramelised onions and sautéed mushrooms but it really is up to you how you prepare your meaty treat.

A simple cheese and pickle (A ploughman's sandwich)

Thick-cut granary bread, strong mature cheddar cheese and sweet yet sharp pickle.

Ploughmans sandwich

When it comes to sandwiches it's not all about the meat-laden monstrosities our friends from across the pond are seemingly so fond of.

We all have an inner vegetarian waiting to be unleashed and what better way to soothe the meat-free cravings than with a cheese sandwich?

Often called the ploughman's lunch, cheese and pickle sandwiches are about as British as a sandwich gets and at one time or another has topped lists naming Britain's favourite sandwich.

Sublime in its simplicity, the ploughman's sandwich works because the sharpness of the pickle cuts through the creaminess of the cheese while its crunch offsets the softness of the cheddar.

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