When people ask me what is different about Britain and I tell them, â€œeverything,â€ they think I’m exaggerating. But when something as simple and ubiquitous as a sandwich can cause confusion, you know you are dealing with decidedly disparate cultures.
First of all, the British have no concept of the Peanut butter and Jelly Sandwich. That’s right, PB&J does not exist here, and when you explain what it is, the idea leaves them slightly horrified. And when you get to my next point, you’ll see why.
To a Brit, making a sandwich involves these three steps, from which they rarely waver: 1) take two slices of bread, 2) butter both of them, 3) put something between them. The culture is so steeped in this â€œbread and butterâ€ routine that they appear unable to break it. I once ordered a chicken sandwich at a deli and asked the lady if I could have mayonnaise on it. â€œOf course,â€ she said. She then proceeded to butter my bread and then put mayonnaise on it. So you can appreciate how the idea of peanut butter and jelly might be a bit disturbing; frankly, it disturbs me in that context.
The upside is, what they put between the slices, is good, imaginative and tasty. And, if like me, you are partial to butter, the odd fixation they have with this dairy-based spread, while jarring at first, does not detract from the overall effect. Branston Pickle, a sort of heavy relish, is commonly used as a compliment to the filling in sandwiches, or as the filling itself. Cucumber sandwiches are tasty, as are bacon butties and fish finger sandwiches (these are fish sticks, for you easily-startled Americans).
But my all time favourite (for bizarreness, not tastiness) is the chip buttie. This is, quite simply, a French fry sandwich, with buttered bread, naturally. They’re quite popular with the pub crowd, though not as popular at the kebab. This is only Sandwiches 101, however, so we’re not going to mention them