With sandwich-making competitions a la Dagwood Bumstead, the English village of Sandwich is celebrating the 250th anniversary this year of the moment Sir Edward Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, ordered his beef served between slices of bread so he would not have to interrupt his game of cribbage. According to village lore, the others around the gaming table began to order “the same as Sandwich,” and a multibillion-dollar industry was spawned.
Sandwich is near the sea in County Kent, about an hour’s drive east of the county seat of Maidstone and two hours from the town of Portsmouth (almost exactly the same distance, oddly, as between Sandwich, Mass., and Portsmouth, N.H.). Legend has it that when the first Montagu was offered a peerage he could have decided to become Earl of Portsmouth — in which case we’d all be eating Portsmouths for lunch — but picked Sandwich instead because it was the premier seaport in England at the time. Over the centuries, however, nature has done what it will, and the village now lies a mile and a half inland from the coast.
A hundred years after the first earl made his historic choice, his descendant, that same card-playing Edward Montagu, as First Lord of the Admiralty, sponsored the South Seas voyages of Captain Cook, who named the Sandwich Islands after him. We call them Hawaii now.
Speaking of sandwiches, there was a lawsuit in Boston in 2006 in which a court ended a food fight between the Panera Bread Company and Qdoba Mexican Grill by ruling that a “sandwich” includes at least two slices of bread, not just one, as in tacos, burritos, or quesadillas. Panera, which has a popular branch on the South Fork, had a no-compete clause in its lease saying that no other sandwich shop could open in its shopping mall.
This is probably why you cannot find a Mexican food shop any place in the Bridgehampton Commons.