Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Ham Sandwich

I was listening to one of the food podcasts provided through National Public Radio. The topic in question is what food became important or distinct during the first decade of the new century/millenium. The guest was Henry Balzer of the NPD Group, an organization that studies among other things, the food and eating habits of Americans.

When asked about what food became important, he stated it was yogurt:
Dr. BALZER: Well, if there is one that defines this decade it would have to be yogurt.

NORRIS: Yogurt?

Dr. BALZER: Yogurt would be the category or the food that has increased in our dietary habits more than any other food during the past 10 years.

NORRIS: Color me surprised.

Dr. BALZER: And it probably, if you think about your own behavior, I'll bet you start your day off a lot with yogurt or have it during lunchtime, or maybe have it as a dessert or a side dish or as a snack, more than you did probably 10 years ago.

This is interesting and as I thought about it, he's absolutely right, yogurt is now a part of everyday eating, it's quick and easy, either to throw in the lunch bag, box or pick up at the convenience store. The individual size makes it perfect for all meals and snacks.

What got me thinking about this blog is a statement he made near the end of the interview:
What won't change is what we eat. I will tell you the number one food that we will eat in the year 2020 will be a ham sandwich. And I know that because I've been doing this for 30 years and I was hard pressed in 1980 to be asked what we'll be eating in 1990. When I discovered that the ham sandwich was the number one thing we ate in 1980, and I made a prediction that we'd be eating it in 1990. And guess what we ate in 1990 - a ham sandwich. What do you think it was in 2000 - a ham sandwich. 2010? A ham sandwich.

So do I have to go out on a limb to tell you that the number one food we'll be eating in this country in the year 2020 will be a ham sandwich? What I don't know is what will be the bread. There will be something new about the ingredients or the condiments that go on this. But when I ask you, what did you have? You'll say, oh, I had a ham sandwich.

The one consistency of the last half century, and perhaps even longer is the Ham Sandwich. Again, I have to agree, what sandwich is easy to make, easier to consume and goes good with everything? The Ham Sandwich. When one considers our obsession with all things bad for us, such as fat and stuff, it's amazing it has lasted as long. Pork is either liked or hated and with the ham sandwich, it should be on the downward slide, yet it persists.

Perhaps because we simply like it. As I also said, it's the easiest sandwich to make, you take two pieces of bread, a few pieces of ham and cheese, add some butter, mustard, perhaps some lettuce and or tomato, stick them together, put it all in a sandwich bag and you have the basis of a good lunch.

There's also a certain ability to invent, for example, the type of ham can be varied, from cooked, to black forest, sugar and honey cured. Then there's mustard or the spread one can, to say nothing of the bread or mix the whole thing together with some mayo and make a ham salad sandwich or roll.

While doing my research, which included making a ham sandwich with leftover cooked ham, some cheese and a bagel, making sure the ham covers the hole, so not to have a cheesy mess all over the plate, I discovered a number of great recipes for ham sandwiches.

One declares the "Perfect Ham Sandwich", in fact it is a signature creation.

Another amazing sandwich is Croque Monsieur


There is also a feminine version called the Croque-Madame, which sounds equally nice, especially with a fried egg on top.

So cheers to the champion sandwich of all time, a survivor that marks decades as easy as we eat them.

1 comment:

edson said...

Very interesting but how true!

Thanks for that observation and I must say I love the idea of the feminine version of the last choice in the Ham sandwich with the egg on top, the female