There’s really nothing better than the humble sandwich. They are convenient, flavor-packed, comforting. So it’s little wonder that nearly every country around the world has its own version.
Flawless Milano rounds up some of the world’s most iconic sandwiches – dishes that have come to define a city, or even a country, creations that are more than just the sum of their fillings.
Italian food is consumed around the world, and the panino ranks up there with pizza, spaghetti Bolognese and lasagna as one of the most beloved Italian dishes of all time. So what separates the Michetta from your bog-standard panino? What makes its such a special sandwich?
The Michetta defined a generation of Italians. Its convenience and coolness were whole-heartedly embraced by a section of society known as the paninari – young adults who wore fluoro Moncler puffa jackets, Timberland boots, cuffed jeans, and Ray Bans. All of those icons live on (thankfully not all worn at the same time), and so has the Michetta withstood the test of time. Why?
Let’s start with the fact that the Michetta bread roll is the only DOC-certified bread in Italy. It’s crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, allowing for a perfect interplay of textures. What goes inside the michetta is up to you. Traditionally you’d opt for some kind of ham and cheese combination, but now the options are limitless, with combinations such as avocado and smoked salmon, or even something sweet like dark chocolate and strawberries. At Michetta’s in via Ambrogio Campiglio, you can build your own perfect sandwich.
THE PHILLY CHEESESTEAK – PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, USA
Few sandwiches have gained as large a following as the Philly Cheese Steak. Reportedly invented in the 1930s by Italian immigrants Pat and Harry Olvieri, the sandwich combines thinly sliced rib-eye beef frizzled on a hot griddle, and American cheese, stuffed into an Italian bread roll. Common toppings include sautéed onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and hot sauce.
THE FRANCESINHA – PORTO, PORTUGAL
This unholy Frankensteinian calorie-loaded monstrosity hails from the city of Porto in Portugal. Between two slices of bread you’ll find wet cured ham, smoke cured pork sausage, chipolata sausage, and steak (that’s for the basic – many locals add a couple of prawns to the mix for good measure). The sandwich is then covered in melted cheese and submerged in a sauce made of beer and tomato. It invariably comes served with fries because the Portuguese apparently have never heard of heart disease.
THE BÀNH MÌ – VIETNAM
After the Francesinha, it’s good to consider something a bit lighter and fresher. Look no further than the Vietnamese Bành Mì. The Colonial French occupation saw the baguette introduced to Vietnam, and its subsequent bastardization saw the creation of a uniquely brilliant sandwich. The Bành Mì incorporates oven-roasted pork belly, Vietnamese salami, liver pate, grilled chicken, cucumber slices, pickled carrots and chilli soy sauce.
THE REUBEN – NEW YORK, NEW YORK, USA
Going back stateside, the Reuben sandwich is a New York Jewish Deli classic. Built on rye bread, the Reuben perfectly combines savory flavors of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. The sandwich is then toasted. It might not be kosher on account of the cheese, but any Jewish deli worth its salt has one of these on the menu.
THE CROQUE MADAME – PARIS, FRANCE
Cured pork, cheese and eggs has to be one of the best flavor combinations known to man. Whether it’s the historical pasta Carbonara or a simple McDonald’s Bacon and Egg McMuffin – it’s impossible to make those three ingredients taste bad. It’s another holy trinity altogether. With France’s Croque Madam boiled ham is placed inside two slices of buttered and toasted bread. Cheese is grated on top and grilled, before being topped with a fried egg.
THE CHIP BUTTY – LONDON, ENGLAND
England is not famous for its cuisine (at least famous in a positive sense), and it is not hard to see why with their contribution to this list. The Chip Butty is simply hot chips lazily stuffed inside two slices of white bread. It’s the kind of sandwich you eat when you’ve given up on life after not seeing the sun for four months in a row.
THE BOCADILLO – SPAIN
The bocadillo is a fancy-free Spanish sandwich that sees a type of small Spanish baguette, cut lengthwise and stuffed usually with a type of Spanish omelette. It’s low-cost, deliciously simple and able to be enjoyed at all hours of the day.
THE VEGEMITE SANGER – AUSTRALIA
Vegemite tends to strike fear into the hearts of non-Australians. The thick, black food spread is made from leftover beer extracts to which other vegetable extracts and spices are added. It’s salty, malty and not for the faint of heart.
THE AREPA – VENEZUELA
A flat round unleavened piece of dough is baked, grilled, fried or boiled before being topped with meat, eggs, tomatoes, salad, and cheese. Not limited to Venezuala, the Arepa is the sandwich of choice in Colombia, where they even have a yearly festival celebrating the beloved sandwich.