The club sandwich — a mouthwatering mélange of meats, cheeses and salad greens double-stacked among three slices of mayo-slathered bread or toast — is a portable picnic for one. A movable feast.
"I order a club sandwich all the time," the late comedian Mitch Hedberg quipped. "And I'm not even a member."
Because it is a recurring motif on the menus of fancy country clubs and haute hotels, the club sandwich is also a key economic indicator these days. To wit, Hotels.com has developed the Club Sandwich Index to determine the relative expensiveness of cities around the world.
The 2014 results — of the third annual survey — have just been released. For the CSI average price, researchers tallied the prices of club sandwiches at hotels in 28 different countries. The most expensive club sandwiches in the world are served in Geneva, where the average cost is about $33. In New York, the cost for a club is close to $18.
"The Club Sandwich Index offers travelers a simple price comparison to show how far their money may stretch in each country," Kate Hopcraft of Hotels.com said in a statement. "The next time you're tucking into a club in Geneva, remember you could have three more for your money in New Delhi."
Toast Of The Towns
Many food historians trace the origin back to 1894 and the Saratoga Club House, a casino in New York. "The Club Sandwich was the favorite of former King Edward VIII of England and his wife, Wallis Simpson," according to What's Cooking America. "In fact, she took great pride in preparing this sandwich."
The sandwich quickly spread to other regions, as the Food Timeline tells it. In 1897, The Atlanta Constitution published a prescription for the Coogler Club sandwich: a slice of ham, a slice of turkey, a slice of tongue, two slices of pickles and "an artistic touch of mustard" between thin slices of light bread.
And by 1930, the hand-held delicacy had found its way to Washington, where it became a symbol of funding — and frugality.
In the archives of the U.S. House of Representatives, you can read about the House Club Sandwich Debate. Rep Charles Underhill, R-Mass., held it up — literally and figuratively — in defense of the House café's funding request. And he compared the government-issue sandwich with that of a local eatery. "Look at the size of this piece of chicken and compare it with this piece of chicken in our own restaurant, and with this larger piece of chicken, and large piece of toast, more mayonnaise, tomato and lettuce, we get only 5 cents more for our sandwich."
Rep. William Bankhead, D-Ala. — future Speaker of the House and father of actress Tallulah Bankhead — countered by asking for more reasonably priced fare all around. Ham sandwiches, for example, "for those of us who can't afford club sandwiches and don't eat them."
Bankhead might have blanched at the cost of a club sandwich in contemporary Geneva — where, presumably, the cheese is Swiss.
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