October 9, 2012

National Sub/Italian/Grinder/Hero/Hoagy... Day

"It has been well said that a hungry man is more interested in four sandwiches than four freedoms." - Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.

It's National Sub Day!

Sub. Italian. Grinder. Hero. Hoagy. Torpedo. Bomber. Dagwood. Po' Boy. Rocket. Wedge. Zep. Gatsby. Tunnel. Blimpie. Fill-in-the-blank.

Wherever you're from, whatever you call it, the concept is the same: it's a sandwich made with an oblong roll filled with meat, cheese, veggies, and a sauce or condiment of some kind. There is no specific name for it, and most regions in the U.S. have their own version of it (some feature fried seafood, some a specific kind of aged provolone, some serve 'em cold). While it's a true representation of our melting pot of a country, it had to originate somewhere, right? Supposedly, the "fill-in-the-blank" (however you want to call your sandwich) was created by different Italian-American communities here in the States between the 19th and 20th centuries.

It's interesting to look at where some of the specific names of these sandwiches comes from. Pinpointing their exact origin can be controversial and confusing, but not specifically the "Italian" - which I'm particularly partial towards since it was born in my hometown of Portland, ME. It's a long, soft roll that's sliced open and stuffed with your choice of meat (ham, salami, bacon, pepperoni, tuna, turkey, chicken salad, or roast beef), American cheese slices, tomatoes, green peppers, lots of onions, black olives, sour pickles, and topped with a squirt of olive oil, salt and pepper before being wrapped up in wax paper. There's no lettuce, there's no condiment, and there's no way to eat it without getting a little greasy. According to the Amato's website, it was created by Giovanni Amato around 1902, who was an Italian immigrant that sold fresh bread to his fellow Italian immigrants working as longshoreman on the docks of Portland. They asked Giovanni to start adding a little extra "umph" in the bread to them to make them more substantial, so he did. And thus, "the Real Italian" was born (named for his people, not because of it's ingredients). By 1920, Giovanni opened a little sandwich shop on India St. in Portland called "Amato's" - which, today, has locations in four separate states and sells their signature tomato sauce in the grocery stores.

And now you're all the wiser, foodies.

I didn't know how I wanted to celebrate today (an Italian seemed nice, but not quite what I was craving), so I went with a meatlessball sub and a heaping pile of crispy onion rings.

Happy National Sub Day!