Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Signature Symbolic Sandwich

I couldn't help but take a photograph because the filling looked like writing. Now as I recall, this is the Caffè Torino, a place of Belle Epoch splendour. You'll find it in the Piazza San Carlo in Turin - and if you're there, don't hesitate to plunge straight in. The Caffè Torino promises old world elegance and it delivers - although pricey compared with others, it's well worth the experience. It might come as no surprise that there is no particular symbolism for a sandwich. It would have to be either about the bread or the filling. But the sandwich has an ancient lineage. People have always wrapped food in bread and at one time a slab of coarse bread was regarded as a kind of plate. In the Middle Ages, a trencher was stale bread carrying other food. Like the edge crust of a Cornish pastie, it allows the eater to consume the food without necessarily touching it. In 110 BC, at Passover, lamb and herbs were sandwiched between two pieces of soft matzah, flat unleavened bread, which brings us back to symbolism. The above picture features is a rather more sophisticated arrangement and unlike bread, isn't old enough to have any symbolic value. But in Christianity, bread is nourishment and life. For the Eucharist, it is the sacred bread of eternal life. Traditionally, unleavened bread with no yeast refers to origins and purity, whereas bread made with yeast is about the active principle and spiritual transformation. All that aside, I do remember just how good it was to eat that sandwich.