Squashy Rucksack Sandwiches: The Quest For The Perfectly Portable: Over to you

Is anyone familiar with this formula?

N = C + {fb (cm) . fb (tc)} + fb (Ts) + fc . ta

I wasn’t but my interest soared on learning that (according to Leeds University researchers) this jumble of letters reflects the perfect bacon sandwich.

As this week is British Sandwich Week (12-19 May 2012) and as a former student of Leeds University I couldn’t let it pass by without a quick post. Anyway I was worried. I needed to find out how they conducted the research as when I was a science student we did most of our food experiments in the early hours of the morning after a belter of a night out generally involving a pub crawl through Leeds.

Fortunately, the Leeds research team were altogether more conscientious. Apparently crispiness and crunchiness is all important with chewy being an instant turn off. Read here how they did it.

We do seem to lap up this sort of information as several years back physicist Len Fisher of the University of Bristol did some similar research on the perfect way to dunk a chocolate biscuit and was astounded by the huge amount of public interest. Sadly Len we’re not all budding scientists – we just love our tea and hob nobs.

And our sandwiches.

All this food talk got me thinking about my top 5 sandwich choices and especially the combinations that best survive hours of buffeting in my rucksack.

Here’s my Top 5

  • Fifth place goes to… BLT. Thick, wholemeal bread, spread with thin layer of cream cheese, rocket, crispy bacon à la Leeds, thinly sliced tomato. Lots of black pepper.
  • Number four… Sausage baguette. Just a split, buttered baguette, filled with any type of sausage. ‘Hot’ is undeniably better but such is my adoration, I’d probably attempt it frozen.
  • In third place…Chicken salad. Wholemeal rolls. Rocket, thinly sliced tomato, sliced chicken, black pepper (ideally avocado too but doesn’t travel well)
  • The runner up… Smoked salmon and cream cheese. On bagel. With black pepper.
  • And my favourite sandwich is… Fishfinger. No adornments necessary. Just line ‘em up. You may deem this a ‘hot’ sandwich and therefore not suitable for packed lunches. For me, it works either way. But I am a sushi lover…

image by adactio

Sadly, two of my favourites failed to get a mention as they’re not transportable enough. But I do love a chip butty and am also very partial to cucumber sandwiches!

image by Annie Mole

So – what’s your favourite packed lunch sandwich? Comment below, let me know and we’ll see if there’s an obvious winner!

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  • http://nodamnblog.wordpress.com/ Susie

    Cheddar cheese and chopped onion on thick white bread. Like fine wines, these samos just keep getting better the older (and squashder) they become. :D

    • karenguttridge

      Well definitely delish…and I do seem to recall that you ate rather a lot of these on a particularly long hike..!

  • Mart

    Have long since given up on butties for hill jaunts. My favourites for trips around Chester Zoo & long car journeys etc are white floury buns with tongue & cranberry sauce, hint of black pepper. Also do like fish finger ones & add a few petite pois with a dash of tomato sauce.

    • karenguttridge

      What do you take into the hills then? And I’d forgotten all about tongue – used to love that as a kid! Love your extra little touches to the fish finger beauties – very sophisticated! :-)

      • Mart

        I nibble things at rest stops, cereal bars, fruit cake, Breakaways, nanas, an apple etc. There’s nowt like a good nibble:-)

  • http://twitter.com/lunchboxworld Caroline Job

    my favourite sandwich this week is the salad lyonnaise sandwich…
    If you need lunch box ideas, do check our blogs http://lunchboxworld.wordpress.com
    Good idea to cover the most easily portable sandwiches…
    The Lunch Box Lady x

    • karenguttridge

      I hadn’t heard of a salad lyonnaise sandwich before – I must be slipping..! I must admit – I’m thoroughly enjoying this blogpost as I feel obliged to test out all the suggestions. Happy Days…:-)

  • Nige Bamford

    In the hills nothing, but nothing, beats an egg sandwich – chopped while still warm with plenty of butter (not mayo), a splash of salt and lots of ground black pepper. A beef pie on the side and you have, right there, the perfect accompaniment to a ‘grand view’.

    • karenguttridge

      Egg sandwiches have been one of everyone’s top choices! Being very partial to pasties and the like, I do like the idea of the pie :-) Plus view of course! Thanks for your comment :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/kerry.dwyer.31 Kerry Dwyer

    I find baguettes or naans are easier to take than bread and keep their shape. My favourite sandwiches are not very portable but chicken satay is good on the go. When we were on a walking holiday in Ireland my husband found a shop selling Irish breakfast sandwiches in a piece of baguette. He was in his element.
    I love walking and only just found this blog – I write up looped walks for AngloInfo – a blog for expats. 

    • karenguttridge

      I agree – the bread type is important. It’s one reason I like bagels as they’re pretty indestructible! Thanks for your comment – the blog is fairly new but I’m going to be adding lots of hiking escapades throughout Europe and beyond in the next couple of years :-)

  • David

    brussels garlic pate, edam cheese, thin sliced onions, thin sliced dill pickles, shredded lettuce, mayo and brown mustard, preferably on rye.  travels well, super tasty, and mega-calorie packed.   perfect for the hills

    • karenguttridge

      I must remember to ask you to make one for me next time..! Sounds so tasty. And rye bread travels well, I find. I’ve got so many new sandwiches to try – what joy! Thanks for your comment :-)

  • http://www.discovercumbria.co.uk/ Discover Cumbria

    Well I’m def not one for the squidgie sandwich…so anything that may make
    the bread go soggy is just not included! My kids are used to that by
    now… so really no salad – tho’ if the walk’s not too long we normally
    take a little plastic box with cherry toms/thick cucumber wedges in! But
    an apple will suffice if needs must!

    The fillings themselves rather depend on availability as walks are
    often late planned…can’t ever go wrong with ham and cheese – boring
    but it comes out of the tinfoil looking like it went in! Cream cheese
    and smoked salmon is probably our family fave….
    chicken/turkey+stuffing+cranberry sauce is fab (especially on a Boxing
    Day Walk)…but needs to be well protected so it doesn’t make the bread
    go gooey!

    The previous days left over BBQ’d sausages always go down well too – on their own without bread!

    • karenguttridge

      Your choices sound very similar to mine. I love all those fillings and sometimes just experimenting with different types of bread or rolls can work wonders on the sogginess factor! :-)

  • http://twitter.com/CumbrianRambler Beth Pipe

    Good list!  My favourite for the fells is a home made sausage and egg mayo roll – ideally made with spicy Welsh dragon sausages from Higgys.  Adore a fishfinger sarnie with loads of tartar sauce, but couldn’t eat one cold.

    • karenguttridge

      Sausages and eggs are reigning supreme in this poll! Not entirely unexpected… :-)

  • http://twitter.com/chloegreene21 Chloe Greene

    A very conventional choice from me but I think you can’t beat cheese and tomato. Two provisos: cheddar must be very mature and thickly cut and bread needs to be dense – a good granary or rye works. Plus a sprinkle of salt on the tomatoes (I like salt too much).
    Good luck with the radio interview :)

    • karenguttridge

      Love cheese and tomato. I mentioned earlier in these comments that choice of bread is an important deciding factor in hardiness of sandwiches – rye is great, I find and thick slices (oh, go on then..) are better :-)

      • http://twitter.com/chloegreene21 Chloe Greene

        Have your tried the rye bread with coriander which I can only ever get at Waitrose (dead posh I know!)
        It’s a Russian brand – can’t remember the name.
        Anyway it makes the most fantastic toast and is also lovely and dense for rucksack and picnic sarnies.   

        • karenguttridge

          I think it might be called Borodinsky..? But you’re right – a dense bread is much more portable. I’m having a whale of a time trying out all these sandwich suggestions! Though I may come to regret using the word ‘whale’…

  • http://www.webtogs.com Gareth

    Easy! Plain bagel with lashings of peanut butter, eaten one after 4 days at the bottom of my sack with no ill effects afterwards…..

    • karenguttridge

      What can I say…. you’re a real trooper ;-) Bagels were made for backpacks!

  • TheReal Burdock

    My out and out favourite when outdoors is peanut butter with banana. Loads of calories and delicious. And if it get squashed it doesn`t affect the taste. If anything it gets better. Wholemeal bread as it`s tougher.

    • karenguttridge

      I can’t fault that combination! I would probably go for a bagel (tough too!) but filling is spot on :-)

  • http://twitter.com/Beswickian Ian Beswick

    As a Coeliac, (and it’s also Coeliac awareness week) i’d like to point out that Gluten Free bread doesn’t have the elasticity of Gluten containing Bread so is infuriatingly crumbly. Lots of butter and a good slab of cheddar does however help it to bind together. You can’t beat the old Cheese Butty:)

    • karenguttridge

      Hi Ian – Thanks for sharing that with us. Guess you need to opt for more ‘sticky’ fillings as you point out. Cheese has (not unsurprisingly) been a popular backpacking choice :-)

  • Meherchris

    So many good ones out there but for me it has to be strong thick sliced cheddar with a little salad cream on brown and a handful of crisps thrown inside. Simple but hits the spot. A great read Karen, really enjoyed it and now I’m starving

  • http://www.shareyouradventure.com/user/profile/martin_free Martin Free

    Sausage butty. On a white bun. With ketchup. And a bad cup of builder’s tea in a polystyrene cup. The transport cafe / butty van breakfast of the Road Warrior. Get some!

  • cussine

    I like wholemeal pitta with salami, never gets squashed…oh and pork pies too!

  • Joanna Ellis

    I was worried when I got to number 4, and the fishfinger sandwich had not yet been mentioned!
    Mine is good old cheese and mustard pickle on thick sliced white bread……..

    • karenguttridge

      That was the top sandwich of the poll! Good ol’ cheese and pickle :-) I have pledged to remain loyal to my fishfinger creations *sigh* Thick bread, obviously – forget the thin, bendy stuff.