The Longwiches

long sandwiches
Banh Mi and Italian Sandwiches

Italian sandwiches, Submarines, Heros, Hoagies, Grinders, Wedges, Zeppelins, Jambon Beurre, Dagoberts, and Banh Mi

Also Gatsbys and Po’Boys

These are among the longwiches.  They are those made from bread longer than it is wide, split lengthwise and stuffed with things like meats and sauces and vegetables. They are typically loafwiches, though some may argue they can also be bunwiches, provided the bun has the correct dimensions (length>width) 

If we’re being blunt, we can just call them subs. Sub is short for submarine, because the bun slightly resembled a turn of the century version of the vessel. I always thought it was because of the olive periscope like in the cartoon. That name came in around 1910 or so, and has since become the most popular name for a longwich. Still, it’s just a nickname for what, in america at least, was an Italian sandwich filled with cold cuts and vegetables. Apparently the Italian sandwich was invented in Portland Maine in 1903 by a gentleman named Giovanni Amato.

Except obviously that’s not true. 


Are you telling me that although salami, cheese and long bread had co-exited for hundreds of years, and the concept of “sandwiches” had been “invented” by that degenerate John Montagu the 4 earl of sandwich in the late 1700’s, it took all the way until 1903, and some guy in Maine of all places to invent the Italian sandwich? Well that’s just dumb, and I reject this origin wholeheartedly. Italians (the ones  in Italy) had certainly been doing this for a long time, and Mr Amato simply introduced this version of a sandwich to the non-Italian Americans. I also propose that sandwich wikipedia is in need of some major citations. Get it together nerds! 

Said Sandwich Dad to a mirror.

Let’s not dwell on etymology, and falsely written histories though. These are things you can look into on your own when you fix sandwich wikis for me. Let’s keep moving and get into the other longwiches, specifically the French and the Vietnamese. 

The french are certainly the culture most famous for their long bread. If you were to create a picture of a stereotypical Frenchman, and you gave him a striped shirt and beret, you would have an incomplete caricature until he’s also carrying a baguette. Long before the “invention” of the Italian sandwich stateside, the French had been enjoying their Jambon Beurre (Ham and butter on baguette) sandwiches in Paris markets and beyond since at least the mid 19th century. 

Le Jambon Beurre

Having recently visited Paris for the first time about a year ago, I can say with confidence that french butter and cured meats on fresh baguette is certainly one of the best sandwiches in existence. If you get a chance to visit, just go to a corner store and buy these items and eat them by the Seine, and you’ve had a pretty good French experience. You can also get the real thing all over, and you could do that too if you’re not a cheapskate like me. Buy some cheese and wine while you’re at it. Viva la belle France! I’ll also give some love to the Belgian Francophone Dagobert, which is basically a Jamon Buerre with vegetables and cheese. Known elsewhere as…. A sub.

Though there were a lot fewer French immigrants than Italians showcasing their incredible and accessible food culture in the US, there were French occupiers in Vietnam. Instead of showcasing and selling their food, they instead demanded that the Vietnameese learn how to make French style bread. 

Colonialism is bad. It imposes stark, sudden and often violent changes to populations who were minding their own business. It attempts to erase local culture by imposing its own, often rending apart the families and livelihoods of those in its path. There are often no real consequences for the colonialists either. But there can be some small victories. One of Vietnam’s small victories over the french is that they took the French classic that was imposed on them (the Jamon Buerre) and they made it their own, with their own local ingredients. They didn’t just make it good, they made it better. Look around the web. You will find that in 2020, nerds, bloggers, influencers and trolls alike all seem to agree that the Banh Mi is, in fact, the world’s greatest sandwich. I am among them. 

These are all delicious favourites, and I truly love them all. But I believe that the Banh Mi is to the Jambon Beurre and the Italian as Noma is to Subway. 

Look, today we’re talking about something near and dear to me.  Delicious long breads. The Italian, the French and the Vietnamese. Delicious cured meats, the Italian, the French and the Vietnamese. And delicious condiments and vegetables. Again, those three regions. These are possibly the purest of all sandwiches. They are loafwiches. A whole or half cut loaf of bread. No slices, no buns. Crust and chew, fat and crunch, salt and sour. If it were up to me and I was able, I would probably eat one of these for lunch every day. I’m kicking myself for not hoarding baguettes at my last rushed covid shopping outing. Powdered french duke that I am, I’ve run out of pate for banh mi. And soft cheeses. Stupid pandemic. 

When the grocery store is no longer a hellscape of stress and panic, and even while it still is, it’s pretty easy and even cheap to make your own version of any of these. If you are able, absolutely do get something from a local bakery, butcheire, or specialty shop. If you can only do pick ups at your local chain, well, their baguettes are cheap as all get out, and will do in a pinch for any of these. They go stale quick though so make it worth your while. You could probably make all three of these classics out of a single baguette if you were so inclined. The first is the easiest

Jambon Beurre

If you speak french, you know that Jambon means ham and Beurre means butter. Apart from your baguette, that’s all you’ll need. Just make sure to get the good stuff. Cheap packaged ham will do, but you know in your heart you can do better. Shaving a nice baked easter ham is a good way to do it, but you can also get some half decent deli ham. Also use real butter and not margarine. You’re never going to replicate french butter over here, but you can at least use the real thing. That said, please know that I will regularly not heed my own advice, and any admonishment I put forth towards margarine users is only a projection of my own guilt for doing the exact same. Bon appetit. 

a sandwich i made myself in Paris without ham or butter.

Italian, Sub, Hoagie, Grinder, Wedges, and Heros

Hoagie = Philadelphia 

Hero = New York

Grinder = New England (or hot/toasted sandwich in NY, PA, DE)

Wedge = counties directly north of NYC, also the influence for the 90’s wedge cut at Subway

Italian = Maine and some other parts of New England  

Sub (or submarine) = pretty much everywhere else including the places already listed.

If I’m wrong on these please do correct me. Also go and fix it on wikipedia

Look, we’ve all been to Subway. You don’t need to be a ‘sandwich artist’ to make a good sub. You know what goes on, but even using a superstone baguette puts your homemade sub streets ahead of Subway’s substanceless bread. I’m not trying to beat up on Subway here, I’m just trying to tell you that you can almost certainly make a better sandwich than they can. Order some deli meats. Make em italian. Mortadella, capicola, calabrese, etc. get some provolone if you can. Chopped olives or pickled peppers or eggplant make it special. You’ll need a bit of tomato, maybe some lettuce and a pickle. Just make sure you’re using proper construction ratios. If you are unfamiliar with sandwich ratios in construction, go back a few posts and you’ll find my guide to sandwich architecture. ( Mayo,mustard is all good, but a bit of italian salad dressing is a nice condiment if not a bit on the nose. Buon Appetito  

Banh Mi

I don’t know about where you live, but it is a bit tricky to get vietnamese pork sausage in the Yukon. I’m sure it’s out there somewhere, but I just havent been looking hard enough. For me, I think it’s alright to use pretty much any half decent cold cut, or pulled meat, or whatever. I use cheap ass garlic sausage. It’s not 100 percent authentic, but neither is putting kraft italian dressing on a hoagie so gimme a break. Please if you can find the good cha lua, use that. If location, covid, and general stupid whiteness prevent you from getting it, just do the best you can. The one thing you should not skip is the pate. Any pate is fine, and it’s easy to find at almost any grocery store. Liverwurst also works, but it needs to be there. I put mine on the bottom bun.  A bit of mayo mixed with hot sauce works for the top of the bun. Then you’ll need some cilantro, maybe some peppers if you like. then some pickled carrot or daikon. Now, If you’re like me and got way too into Stardew Valley a couple years ago and then started obsessively gardening, realized you gardened more than you needed, and then had to get into pickling as well, then you probably have a few jars of pickled carrots kicking around somewhere. If you’re not like me, you may need to do some quick pickling. It doesn’t take long or much effort and if you can’t find daikon, just use carrots. Here’s a recipe: 

It’s a big step, sure but do a good sized batch and then you can make banh mi for days. After that you just need your pork sausage and you’re in flavour town. Be sure to say hi to Guy Fireri while you’re there. ăn ngon nhé  

Banh Mi fixin’s
Giant Banh Mi on half loaf of french bread

Now my profession of love for banh mi notwithstanding, I’m not here to rank these members of the longwich family. I’m not even here to include the others in the family (the po’ boys, the gatsby, cheesesteak, etc). I’m just here to tell you a bit about sandwiches I like. I very much like all of these. I very much miss being able to go out and order them from super special places.

I’m here to tell you that when this is all over, you should go to Paris if you can and try their Jambon Beurre. Or go to your very best bakery and hammery and creamery or churn your own butter and make your very best re-creation. You should go to Vietnam and try every single type of banh mi you can find. Or go to a local vietnameese place you’ve never been to or an Asian grocery you’ve been meaning to check out and ask about stuff.

Go to the east coast of the US and try one of each of the many names for sub, or better yet, go to Italy and ask what they think of the idea that the Italian sandwich was invented in Maine. Or better still, go to Italian Food Imports Deli on Blanchard St in Victoria BC and have them make you a 9 inch Italian sandwich with eggplant and peppers if they still do it that way, because that was one of my all time favourites.    

A combination of all three I made today

Until then, stay safe and send me pictures of the sandwiches you’re all making at home. Tag me is stuff so I can see. Also follow me on instagram ( and twitter(@owlstrander)

And always remember the immortal words of Fred Penner. 

“Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine. I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time. I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch. If I had a hundred sandwiches, I’d eat them all at once.“

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