Fish Sammies: An Explanation of the British Bread Complex

In general, America is the winner of the food game. We deep fry everything, Twinkies, cheese, pasta, Oreo’s, basically everything is better if deep fried. Our pizza’s are bigger, our cakes have more frosting, and we make it all over the top. But, lately, I feel like the UK might have us Yanks beat in the sandwich department.
British people take their sandwiches seriously. They even have special bread just for making toasted sandwiches, which they call “toasties”. This special bread is more aerodynamically designed to get maximum toastage while still maintaining a softer inside to bite into. It is a science, someone I work with can even tell regular sliced bread from toastie sandwich sliced bread. Apparently, all breads are not created equal. (This same person can actually smell when I am making toast at work, she stops by the kitchen to point out how nice it is, toast is like perfume to her)

I’m not joking when I write that the British have made their sandwich forming into a science form. They have even designed a method of avoiding sogginess so sandwiches last longer. In the US, if you are making a standard lunch sandwich, you would have two slices of bread, put on some meat, then maybe put on some condiments like mayo or mustard. However, by the time lunch rolls around, you might notice your sandwich has gone soggy! The horror! (Especially if you use American Wonder Bread or white bread, which British people think tastes like slices of cake.)

The Brit’s have solved the soggy sandwich problem. I wondered for over a year why people at work put butter on bread before adding their sandwich ingredients. I thought they just really like butter. Recently, my partner explained that it is because by first putting on butter, it creates a barrier between the bread and other condiments and meats! Thus, your bread won’t get soggy! My mind was blown. (And yes, I tested it and noticed the sandwiches are fresher with butter, but I still don’t like the taste enough to frequently butter my bread.)
Butter aside, the Brits put some other weird stuff on their sandwiches. They will eat straight up bread and meat, no condiments to add moisture. Bread and potato chips/crisps sandwiches. Subway here sells Indian curry meat on sandwiches. Shrimp in mayo is a popular sandwich choice. Sausage and egg on a baguette roll is a staple of my partner’s diet. But by far one of the strangest sandwich toppings I’ve seen in England is fish fingers!
Yes, the kids I work with love fish finger sandwiches. By fish fingers I am referring to the healthy replacement to chicken nuggets our parents tried to trick us with when we were kids in America. I always ate mine doused in ketchup to make it palatable. Well here, children and adults love the stuff. And as a snack or lunch option, they will make a fish finger sammie. (Sammie is British slang for sandwich). To make a fish finger sandwich you first take two slices of bread (usually white sliced bread, not necessarily toastie bread) with both slices fully buttered. Then you put on at least three fish fingers, and smash the slices of bread together to create a sammie.
I tried it for the first time at work. I enjoy the occasional fish fingers, and I kind of like bread. So, I thought I would probably enjoy the two in combination. I was wrong. I did it up right too, I had the bread slathered in spready butter. The bread combined with the bread crumbs on the fish fingers was just too much for me. It all blended into a white mess. Add in the butter and I felt like I was clogging my arteries with every bite. (This is coming from an American who once did a shot of garlic butter dip on a dare, and enjoyed it) After two bites, I took my sammie apart and just ate the fish fingers.

In conclusion, fish finger sammies are definitely a British tradition I will not be getting on board with. When it comes to sandwiches and sandwich making, American’s need to bow down to the superior knowledge of the British. And lastly, if you want to preserve your sammie, add butter!

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