What do you consider a sandwich? This is such an important question that state governing bodies have ruled on it. Officially it is a meat or vegetable filling enclosed in a bread case of varying forms. It typically qualifies as light fare to complement a meal. The covering can be two slices of bread (traditional), one slice of bread (open-faced), or a split roll (hotdog). According to the formal description, many dishes not traditionally categorized as sandwiches could be considered exactly that.
Tacos meet all the requirements for sandwiches, but many find it hard to accept. A taco is a meat and cheese filling inside a tortilla shell. What is that shell though? It qualifies as a split roll because it is a slice of leavened flatbread folded up to form an envelope. Tacos also serve as light fare or finger foods, and people often serve them for lunch, just like sandwiches. Lettuce complements them and various sauces serve as condiments. Of course, tortillas are not really bread, right? Examine the ingredients in corn tortillas as they compare to those in cornbread. Corn tortillas are made with corn flour that is treated with calcium hydroxide and added to warm water. The simplest cornbread features cornmeal and buttermilk.
The Italian based dish, the calzone, is a form of pizza. Once the crust is folded into a pouch to hold the meat and cheese filling, a calzone technically becomes a type of sandwich. The usual crust is usually comprised of salted bread dough. Once it is filled, the whole pocket is baked similar to a traditional pizza. Common meat fillings are salami, pepperoni, sausage, ham, and other pizza-type toppings that can also be found in sub sandwiches. Some calzones are filled like a hamburger, the burger obviously being a sandwich, further solidifying its place as a sandwich.
This dish takes you all the way to Greece in its origins. One of several dishes that spawned from the doner kebab practice of using meat from a vertical rotisserie, the gyro is a meat filling inside a pita pouch. Pita bread is, of course, flatbread with wheat flour, water, salt, and yeast as the main ingredients. Sometimes it also incorporates honey and oil. Modern pita pouches now feature additional flavors like garlic and red pepper. Greek meat fillings are usually comprised of chicken or pork, while other countries utilize beef or lamb or a mixture of the two. Once you add tzatziki or onion sauce, it is difficult to separate a Greek gyro into a category apart from a lamb steak sandwich with garlic mayonnaise dressing.
What constitutes a true sandwich may vary according to your locality. For example, in South Australia, not even a burger is a sandwich. However, in many regions, if a dish adheres to the age-old tradition of meat and/or cheese on top of or engulfed by a bread-like substance, it qualifies as a sandwich.
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