Eat this Word: Monte Cristo

Monte Cristo

WHAT? The count’s revenge? The origins of this rich sandwich of ham, chicken or turkey, and Swiss cheese that is either dipped in egg and fried in butter or made with already dipped and fried French toast are not clear. A staple of diners across the country, where it is sometimes served with jelly or maple syrup for dipping, the sandwich is thought to be related to the club sandwich, or maybe the Reuben (Jewish delicatessens sometimes substitute corned beef and sauerkraut for the traditional fillings). Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis, author of The Gourmet Guide to Europe (1903), suggests a Spanish ancestor, a sandwich from Seville for which "a slice of ham is put between two slices of bread and dipped in sherry, [then] in egg and fried." In truth the sandwich was probably the fruit of a creative line-cook’s imagination, or maybe just an accident. One thing that mystifies is the name. There is nothing in Dumas’s masterpiece to suggest why a sandwich would be named for the vengeful count, save for the ultimate revenge taken on the eater’s cholesterol levels. WHERE? Marc Orfaly's Beard House dinner WHEN? October 17, 2011 HOW? Miniature Monte Cristo Sandwiches

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