I love almost everything about buying a sandwich. It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s made to order, and at the end of the day, I admire the quick origami of the sandwich machine wrapping my lunch in a cozy cocoon of parchment paper.
But after recently listening to a panel of experts explain how to make a good sandwich, I decided it was time to start making them myself again. It may not be easy, but it’s still cheap, even more customizable, and honestly, all the effort you put in makes the sandwich even better. When I make something, I want it to look as good as it tastes. I want to be able to travel and eat it as is, without effort. I want to pull it out of my bag, look at it carefully, say “duh, sandwich” and crush it between my teeth.
So this weekend I asked the sandwich vendor at the local cafeteria for a lesson, and he was happy to oblige. Whether it’s for a picnic, lunch, or a trip, all it takes is a few folds and twists to get a sandwich that keeps its shape and the ingredients neatly layered. There’s no condensation or mess like with a Ziplock, and the sandwich doesn’t lose its shape when cut in half, making eating on the go much easier and cleaner. All you need is a sheet of parchment or wax paper and, if you’re handling hot sandwiches or cutting them in half, a sheet of foil.
Wrapping a flat sandwich is not the same as wrapping a gift. However, no ribbon or tape is needed to hold the sandwich in place. First, you’ll need a rectangle of parchment paper (or wax paper). You can buy pre-cut parchment paper for easy measuring, or you can cut a tape measure from a roll.
Place the sandwich paper vertically in front of you on the work surface (that is, vertically, not horizontally). Then place the sandwich in the middle of the paper. If the bread has a distinct top edge, bottom edge, left edge, and right edge, place it so that the top is away from you.
Then line up the top and bottom edges of the paper with the center of the sandwich. Fold the paper an additional half centimeter until it is flush with the surface of the sandwich. The number of folds depends on the size of the sandwich and the length of the paper. Be careful not to crush the sandwich.
The paper will now look like a flat tube on both sides. Start with one end of the tube and press the other end into the center with your fingers to create a folded triangle. Press the edges of the triangle, including the base of the sandwich, to form a fold, then fold it over carefully. Repeat this process on the other side and voila!
The fold, crease, and weight of the sandwich will hold it in place. If you like, you can cut the sandwich down the middle, perpendicular to the fold, and wrap it in foil. Otherwise, simply wrap it in a lunch box, brown paper bag, or rectangular container and you’re done.
Hot sandwiches can be prepared in the same way without using foil. However, if you don’t use parchment paper, it will be a little more difficult to eat a light meal on the go because the foil will stick to the pieces of the sandwich.
Next, long sandwiches, such as subs and wraps, come into play. Wrapping these sandwiches can be tricky because the size of the paper depends on the size of the sandwich. As a guide, you should cut the parchment paper to about 1.5 times the length of the sandwich or wrap.
First lay the paper lengthwise in front of you, as if you were making a flat sandwich. Then lay the sandwich diagonally across the paper, near one corner. Lift that corner, place it on top of the sandwich, and press it flat. Then roll the sandwich in the paper to the other corner and fold the sides inward.
Once the sandwich is completely wrapped in the paper and everything is contained, tape the wrapper down. You now have a nicely wrapped sandwich that you can take with you.