Food Facts & Lore

Earth Sandwiches and The Upper Crust

It was Saturday morning when the idea to make bread the focus of our next article came to mind. It did not take a major strike of genius to arrive at this conclusion, mind you. What it took, instead, was a sudden craving for French Toast.

Saturday is often a work day here at the Blog desk, and this particular morning called for a sweet breakfast treat, laptop-side. Walking by the above pictured table on the way to retrieving the to-go treasure did the rest. And so, we now present 2 odd facts you may not know about bread.

Do you consider yourself to be of the of “Upper Crust” of society? No need to answer; we are certain you are. And don’t you dare belittle or doubt yourself. Actually, this topic alone can make you stand out at the breakfast table if you happen to know (which you will in a moment, unless you did already) that the expression dates back to the 1600’s and is directly related to bread. By the way, if you like word-play and food expressions, you may enjoy our Fricasée of Words Segment.

Back then bread was baked in stone ovens, directly on the slab. As a result, the bottom of each loaf was typically covered with soot and ashes. In well-to-do families, it was customary to cut the bottom off and consume the “upper crust” only. For those who had to scramble for every bite, the entire loaf was consumed without hesitation. The meaning of the expression “upper crust” changed ever so slightly to reflect a distinction in classes, rather than a mere distinction in bread-eating practices. We say, everybody is “upper crust” in their own rights.

You may have heard of the upper crust of the planet, but have you ever heard of an “Antipodal Earth Sandwich?” It consists in placing a slice of bread down on the ground at the same time as another person on the opposite side of the earth. The challenge is at least two-fold, in that it requires a) to coordinate the act with a colleague on the other side of the planet, in another time zone and likely speaking another language, and b) to properly identify where and who that might be.

The first antipode earth sandwich was completed by participants placing a baguette in New Zealand and its counterpart in Spain. If you happen to live in the United States, only three spots have been identified whose antipodes are not right in the depths an Ocean. Two are in Colorado and the third is in Montana.

The original idea was proposed by Los Angeles artist, humorist, public speaker and composer Ze Frank, who also wrote a song titled “If Earth Were a Sandwich”. You will not be surprised to learn that Mr. Frank happens to be chief of research and development for BuzzFeed.

The moral of these random bread-flavored facts is two-fold: a) never underestimate the potential of a sudden food craving, and b) food really does bring people together across all walks of life, sometimes even in silly ways that make all differences vanish.