5 International sandwiches you need to try

Paola Westbeek 14 July 2022

One thing we can all agree on is the satisfaction of eating a good sandwich. Try one of these iconic sandwich recipes from around the globe

Sandwiches may just be one the world’s most perfect (not to mention versatile) foods. In every corner of the globe, you’ll find hearty sandwiches that reflect their place of origin and often come with an interesting history.

No need to spend big bucks at fancy restaurants if you’re eager to get a taste of the local cuisine. Just head to the nearest deli, street food stall or sandwich shop and sink your teeth into a piece of edible culture.

Here are five international sandwiches to keep in mind the next time you travel.

These portable delights are not only delicious at any time of day, but they’re also easy to recreate at home and guaranteed to take your taste buds on a delectable culinary journey.

Jambon-beurre

Jambon beurre sandwich made out of baguette stuffed with hamThe jambon-beurre is synonymous with Parisian cuisine, after starting its life as a popular working class meal

Much like the little black dress or Chanel purse, the jambon-beurre is proof that when it comes to French chic, less is definitely more.

The sandwich’s humble origins go back to the 19th-century when it served as a nutritious meal for the working class and consisted of a layer of lard or bacon between thick slices of bread.

"By the 1920s, this poor man’s sandwich had evolved into a sophisticated treat"

By the 1920s, this poor man’s sandwich had evolved into a sophisticated treat.

The stale bread and rancid fat made way for a perfectly crusty baguette tradition slathered with churned unsalted butter from Normandy and topped with paper-thin slices of pale-pink jambon de Paris (which is why the sandwich is also known as “le Parisien”).

The jambon-beurre can be purchased in bakeries all over France and is usually eaten for lunch or as a snack (casse-croûte).

The Reuben

The Reuben sandwich made with toasted bread, Swiss cheese and pastrami This tangy sandwich is surprisingly not kosher, in spite of its affiliation with kosher-style delicatessens

Was the Reuben first made at a New York City deli in 1914, or can we trace its history to Omaha, Nebraska, in the 1920s?

Though the verdict is still not out regarding its origins, one thing is certain—there’s no better place to enjoy the cult sandwich than at Katz’s, the iconic Jewish delicatessen on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

"There’s no better place to enjoy the cult sandwich than at Katz’s, the iconic Jewish delicatessen"

Watch and drool as the towering sandwich is made on the spot with rye bread, a generous layer of succulent pastrami or corned beef, tangy sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese and a lick of Russian dressing (a mayonnaise and ketchup-based sauce).

A pickle on the side is optional but highly recommended.

Broodje kroket

Centre of broodje kroket sandwich with dollop of mustardThe Netherlands' signature sandwich is best tasted with a dollop of mustard

There is something beautifully unpretentious about a broodje kroket. The star of this popular Dutch sandwich (broodje) is the treat that gave it its name: the kroket, a log-shaped, deep-fried snack with a molten centre of creamy beef ragout.

Served on a soft white roll, it should be unceremoniously squished open to let the steam escape and topped with a dash of yellow mustard.

Interestingly, the kroket is not Dutch in origin but French. A recipe for the first kroket, or “croquet” in French—a word derived from “croquer” meaning “to crunch”—can be found in the book Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois (1705) written by the chef of Louis XIV, François Massialot.

In the Netherlands, the first recipe dates to the middle of the 19th-century. Initially considered a posh food, it was after the Van Dobben eatery in Amsterdam sold their first kroket on June 28, 1945, that it became a cherished snack food.

Strammer max

Strammer max sandiwch made with eggs, tomatoes and gherkinsNot for the faint hearted, Germany's strammer max is high in protein (and a shedload of butter)

Looking for the perfect post-pub snack or hangover cure? The strammer max—a German open-faced sandwich with a peculiar name—may just tick all the right boxes.

Hailing from Saxony and Berlin, it isn’t a sandwich for dieters or those who fear butter. To make it, simply melt a large knob of butter in a pan and fry a thick slice of country bread on both sides until crisp and golden.

In the same pan, fry a few slices of cured ham, two eggs sunny-side-up and sliced tomato, adding more butter if necessary. Place this on the bread and garnish with finely chopped chives.

Medianoche

Cuban medianoche sandwich made with ham, Swiss cheese and pickleIn Havana, the medianoche ("midnight") is traditionally served inside nightclubs

Towards the end of the 19th-century, workers at tobacco and sugar factories in Havana, Cuba, often enjoyed a sandwich for lunch or dinner made with roast pork (lechón), ham, Swiss cheese, pickle and mustard.

Later on, the sandwich also became a beloved snack after a night out on the town and was dubbed the “medianoche” (meaning “midnight” in Spanish).

When Cubans immigrated to Miami in the 1950s and Sixties, they brought along their food and customs, including a variation of the sandwich, which became known as the “Cubano” and is now popular all across the United States.

"The sandwich became a beloved snack after a night out on the town"

The main difference between the sandwiches is that the medianoche is made with fluffy, sweet bread (called “pan suave” and similar to challah or brioche) and the Cubano with loaf bread similar to French baguette.

Both sandwiches are pressed on a griddle, cut at a diagonal and served hot and crisp.

Read more: The perfect bagel recipe

Read more: 12 Best road trip snacks

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