Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I’ll bet you were as thrilled as I was to read the news last month that Andras Borgula, artistic director of the Judafest celebrations in Budapest, was planning to break the record for the world’s tallest kosher sandwich.  Apparently he’d approached the nice folk at Guinness World Records who told him there was no such thing as a record for the world’s tallest kosher sandwich, but if he wanted any chance of getting in the book he’d better make it at least two meters high; about seven feet.

Now I’m sure that the nice folk at Guinness meant well but really a seven foot sandwich is a mere nothing in the annals of sandwich construction.  The non-kosher record was apparently created at the Uday Samudra Leisure Resort, in Kerala, India in October, 2007, and it got to 50 feet.  It used 350 slices of bread, 100 pounds of cucumber and tomatoes, 88 pounds each of boneless chicken, sausage, ham, apple, and mayonnaise, 55 pounds of fish, 165 pounds of lettuce, 77 pounds of onions, and 330 pounds of butter.  Much of which sounds fairly kosher to me, apart from the ham obviously, but I’m no expert in these things. It's here apparently, though it's scarcely visible underneath the scaffolding.

         Anyway, in Budapest, Borgula and a group of volunteers prepared 400 kosher sandwiches, the idea being to stack them one on top of another to make what they described as a towering club sandwich: which suggests they don’t really know what a club sandwich is.  The individual sandwiches contained kosher turkey, hummus and pickles.  Well, Mr. Borgula is no doubt a provocateur and funster but surely somebody should have told him that, at best, he’d be making the world’s tallest stack of kosher sandwiches, not the world’s tallest kosher sandwich.  Anyway, that’s all now irrelevant.

The whole thing was a fiasco. Borgula ran out of bread just as the pile reached 1.9 meters.  But, “even if we had more,” Borgula said, “the tower was start[ing] to fall apart.”  I’ve only found one picture and it’s this:

And clearly he isn’t even making a stack of sandwiches, he appears to be making just a low hummock.  Where’s the sport in that?  And in fact I think that if you were a purist you might even object to that Indian record breaker.  A sandwich that needs a scaffolding really isn’t a true sandwich if you ask me.

If you want a big sandwich, this is a big sandwich:

It was made in Zocalo Square, Mexico City in 2006, a single construction weighing 6,991lbs (3,178kgs), containing lettuce cheese and ham, and recognized by Guinness as the world’s biggest sandwich, if quite clearly not the tallest.

I admit I have no idea how culinary matters go in Iran, but even so I was surprised to hear that in 2008 there was an attempt to set a new world record, this time for the world’s longest sandwich.  It was, I read, though don’t altogether believe, a stunt aimed at get Iranians to eat more healthily, and the sandwich was to be partly filled with ostrich meat, which contains half the fat of chicken.  That is no doubt true, but I’ll bet you need to slather on a fair amount  mayo to make it palatable.

The sandwich was intended to be 1,500 meters long, containing 700 kgs of ostrich meat and 700 kgs of chicken, and it was put on display in a public park in Tehran, where the good folk from Guinness were standing by to measure it.  Unfortunately the crowd was so determined to do some healthy eating that they started tucking in to the sandwich before it could be measured.  Where are the religious police when you need them?  Chaos ensued.  The sandwich was demolished and gone in a matter of minutes, leaving the Guinness representatives with a problem, though I’d have thought they might have considered the event for some other category.  Has 700 kgs of ostrich ever been so swiftly eaten?

The current record for the longest sandwich is held by three combined teams from the Lebanon. They made their sandwich in Hazmieh village, Beirut, in May 2011, and they really did put some work into it.  They had 4 specially constructed movable ovens so they could bake one long continuous piece of bread. The dough was divided into sections and rolled out, but then recombined by further rolling.  Then the movable ovens rolled over the top of the bread cooking it as they went. 

I’m seriously impressed, though doesn't the diameter look just a bit thin?   It was in fact a chicken sandwich though zested up with pickles, mayonnaise, red vinegar, salt, mustard, white pepper, lemon juice, kammoun spices and coriander.  But then anything tastes pretty good with all that on it. However the sandwich measured a “mere” 735 meters, less than half the intended length of the Iranian attempt.    

Sandwiches have been on my mind lately because hotels.com have just published their International Club Sandwich Index 2013, (that's it above, though you'll have to go to their website to read it properly) comparing the prices of sandwiches around the world.  I can’t say that I eat many sandwiches in international hotels, but I’m sure some do.  Hotels.com use “the classic hotel staple of a chicken, bacon, egg, lettuce and mayonnaise sandwich as a barometer of affordabiliy.”  Geneva comes top with $30.45.  New Dehli comes 28th at $ 9.11.  The index doesn’t say anything about the quality or quantity of these international hotel sandwiches, but my guess is that none of them is quite as big, tall or long as they ought to be for the money.  

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