Sandwiches Around the World: 10 International Bites on a Bun

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sandwiches around the world

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Who doesn't love sandwiches? They are the perfect food for almost any occasion, and it doesn't take a degree from Le Cordon Bleu to figure out how to make one. Sandwiches are popular the world over; there are countless variations on the ol' Earl of Sandwich's contribution to humanity. While compiling a definitive list would be impossible, here are a few drool-worthy examples.Who doesn't love sandwiches? They are the perfect food for almost any occasion, and it doesn't take a degree from Le Cordon Bleu to figure out how to make one. Clearly sandwiches are well loved across the globe as there are countless variations on the ol' Earl of Sandwich's contribution to humanity. While compiling a definitive list would be impossible, here are a few drool worthy examples.

Sandwiches Around the World: 10 International Bites on a Bun

Rou jia mo, a Chinese street food from the Shanxi province, has often been compared to the hamburger or sloppy joe, but those are just sloppy comparisons. First, there’s no patty, a flatbread bun is used. Second, it looks way better than anything the cafeteria lady used to serve. The meaty filling -- usually stewed pork,  beef or lamb in Muslim areas -- is spiced, chopped and mixed with peppers. Let’s see the lunch lady pull that one off.

The signature sandwich of the Mexican state of Puebla, the Cemita is distinguished from its cousin the torta by a soft egg bun topped with sesame seeds. Fillings are simple, but can vary. Meat, like fried steak or carnitas, is typically topped by Mexican white cheese, avocado, onions and chipotle sauce.

In Danish, Smorrebrod translates to “butter bread” or “bread with butter,” but these little sammies are topped with countless combinations of meat, fish, cheese vegetables and more. Originally a workingman’s food, their first iteration was dark rye bread spread with butter and topped with slices of last night’s meat. After time, the recipes became more elaborate, and Smorrebrod became a beloved dish served in homes and at restaurants across Denmark – usually served alongside beer and alcohol.

We might be taking liberties calling this dish a sandwich, but it is served on bread. Bunny Chow, a South African creation, has its origins among Durban, South Africa’s Indian community. It consists of curried stew stuffed into a hollowed out roll or bread loaf. Don’t worry; it’s not prepared a la Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction". In fact, there’s no rabbit in the dish at all. Instead the sandwich typically includes mutton, chicken or bean.

Certainly not a buddy to anyone's waistline, this popular U.K. snack is pure fat and carbo overload. The chip butty has possible origins in Liverpool, and is generally associated with the Northern U.K. And, unsurprisingly, it is tied to the pub scene. Making one of these monstrosities couldn’t be simpler. Grab some bread – white bread is a must – smear it with butter and cover with chips. Those are French Fries for those of us on this side of the pond.

The Kati Roll is a popular Indian street food, likely from Kolkata (Calcutta). This perfectly portable pocket starts with a flatbread called paratha. This is rolled around a kabob-style meat – kati kabob – that's mixed with vegetables and sauce.

Also called an Indian taco, this sandwich is a specialty of the native peoples of the Western United States. The base of the sandwich is frybread, which is exactly what it sounds like – rounds of deep fried dough. (It’s also the state bread of South Dakota dontchaknow!) To build the taco, just pile on beef, beans, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, cheddar and maybe some sour cream or green chiles. You know, like a taco…

Though it means “little French girl” or “little frenchie” in Portuguese, there’s nothing little about a Francesinha. They did get the French part right – the sandwich is a take on the French croque monsieur…on steroids. One tale claims it originated in Porto with a Portuguese emigrant who returned from France to his native land and adapted the French grilled ham and cheese for Portuguese tastes. Apparently that meant joining two slices of bread around some combination of steak, sausage and ham, crowning it with melted cheese and dousing it with a tomato-beer sauce. Adding fries and/or egg makes it “especial.”

Possibly the healthiest of our sandwich line-up, Pan Bagnat takes two favorite lunchtime foods and mashes them into one. Basically, this specialty of Southern France is a salad sandwich. Based on the fixins of a salad Nicoise, a Pan Bagnat filling will have some combination of olives, tuna, anchovy, cucumber, onion, tomato and capers. This will all be brought together with a vinaigrette, and the juices will seep delightfully into the bun.

The concept of an ice cream sandwich is nothing new. But we’re talking a bonafide sandwich, with real bread – none of that chocolate wafer nonsense. In this Sicilian specialty, a brioche bun takes the place of a cone, cup or cookie. What’s even cooler? This chilly treat is often meant to be eaten for breakfast.

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