04/09/2014 10:09 am ET Updated Jun 09, 2014

The World's Most Iconic Sandwiches

There's a lot you can do with two slices of bread and a handful of fillings. Sandwiches are quick to prepare, versatile, easy to enjoy in your home, in a restaurant, or on the go, and can be as complicated or simple as you need them to be. And everyone has their favorite -- from a plain grilled cheese sandwich, to a more adventurous seven-layer concoction that could feed a family of four.

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The average American eats close to 200 sandwiches a year. Its curious name comes from the fourth Earl of Sandwich, otherwise known as John Montagu. In the late 1700s, French writer Pierre-Jean Grosley recounted his observations of English life in a book called Londres. And these were the lines that started it all:

"A minister of state passed four and twenty hours at a public gaming-table, so absorpt in play, that, during the whole time, he had no subsistence but a piece of beef, between two slices of toasted bread, which he eat without ever quitting the game. This new dish grew highly in vogue, during my residence in London; it was called by the name of the minister who invented it."

Depending on who you ask, this rendition may or may not be completely true but the book was incredibly popular and the story took hold. Soon the name was official, and whenever you ate two pieces of bread with something in the middle, you were eating a "sandwich."

Every country has its own version of the sandwich that embodies the culture, tastes, and flavors of its people and their history. In China they enjoy a delicious donkey meat burger that may seem an odd combination in the U.S. but it's as normal to that culture as a PB&J sandwich is over here (which incidentally the rest of the world thinks is a pretty strange combination).

Sandwich tastes also vary depending on what type of bread you like: ground maize arepas (if you're in Venezuela), soft foot-long rolls (for Vada Pav in India, or Gatsbies in South Africa), or just plain old white Wonder bread. Take a look at how the rest of the world eats their sandwiches and see if there're any you'd like to try.

World's Most Iconic Sandwiches

-- Serusha Govender, The Daily Meal

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