The O.G. Earl of Sandwich

Starch grains found on 30,000-year-old grinding stones suggest that prehistoric man may have dined on an early form of flat bread, contrary to his popular image as primarily a meat-eater.

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal on Monday, indicate that Palaeolithic Europeans ground down plant roots similar to potatoes to make flour, which was later whisked into dough.


Of course he did. Of course he did. C’mon. And though it’s not stated in the article, I can personally guarantee you that, with enough digging, archaeologists will uncover evidence that prehistoric man wrapped his meat in that prehistoric bread.

You think prehistoric man, our forefather, was smart enough to hunt and gather and reproduce successfully — spawning our whole society here — and didn’t recognize the importance and deliciousness of the prehistoric sandwich? Not a chance.

I’ve made this point before: Survey humanity. Just about every culture wraps some sort of protein in some sort of starch. We call it a sandwich and credit it to John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, but that’s a cultural and semantic distinction, and one that vaguely discredits the fine work done by visionaries like Hillel the Elder.

The desire to package meat in bread is baked — pardon the pun — into our very constitution. When scientists eventually sequence the entire human genome, perhaps they’ll discover the section that makes us enjoy sandwiches so thoroughly.

I surmise that prehistoric man probably bit into some meat one day and said, “Damn, this meat is delicious, but I really wish there were some sort of crusty, flaky, milder-tasting starch-based food product to accompany and surround it, creating a synergistic relationship in terms of both flavor and convenience,” then went out and created bread.

Except he probably didn’t say it exactly like that. Did prehistoric man have language? Who has got time to look up a thing like that at a moment like this? The important thing is bully to that guy for obviously desiring something that didn’t even exist yet, though I imagine bread and bread-like products would have been invented one way or the other, because, like I said, desiring burritos is clearly an invariable aspect of the human condition.

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