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Wrap it up!

Sun, 17 September, 2023

The eternal and universal popularity of sandwiches proves my theory: food wrapped is more appealing than food naked.

Let me elaborate: I certainly don’t mean plastic, foil, cardboard or paper, or even a posh linen napkin. I mean a filling wrapped in an outer case, usually carbs-based, bread related even if the ‘bread’ is a tortilla, a pancake or pastry.

The invention of a sandwich is credited to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, in the 18th century. But long before that, people enjoyed preparations of food encased in various kinds of pastry, for ease of handling it without getting hands dirty. Hot pies sold in the streets of medieval England originally had tough, unappetising crust which was discarded and only the filling consumed. In time though the pastry case became perfectly edible of course, while still remaining convenience food: see Cornish pasties. To this day they have a complete filling of meat, potatoes and vegetables encased in a crust with a rim on one side that served as an actual handle.

Elsewhere in the world people used the most basic, often unleavened flatbreads to both wrap as well as bulk out their meals. Tortillas, arepas, pita, lavash, ravioli and wonton skins made the filling inside more filling - nutritionally - and they also made the food more interesting. Because: ‘oh, what’s inside?’ is one of the most excited question you can ask about your or somebody else’s food.

So, foods with filling, foods wrapped are on the scene today. Starting with meats wrapped in flatbread, there’s pork gyros and there’s lamb or chicken shawarma, in a pita, lavash or bazlama bread.

All over southern Europe filo pastry is commonly used to hide delicious fillings. Spanakopita or lamb pie in Greece, spinach empanadas in Spain, and lamb or duck pastillas in Morocco. Plus cuisine-non-specific variants like filo snails or mushroom and fondue pie.

On the other side of the world (but as close to my heart), tortillas are the wrapping material, whether you prepare tacos, quesadillas or enchiladas.

Filled pasta in Italy is surely related to Asian dumplings like gyoza? And closer to home we have sausage rolls and chicken pies. Plus, derivatives of flatbread which I’m convinced pancakes/galettes are, can be stuffed too, with spinach and cheese or ham and egg.

And finally I’ll only mention here apple pie, seasonally relevant, because desserts are practically all about wrapping, stuffing and layering sweet packages with sweeter fillers. Happy wrapping!

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About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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