The sandwich has come a long way since the game-obsessed 4th Earl of Sandwich gave his name to that slab of roast something slapped between two slices of bread that permitted him to carry-on with his cribbage game without hunger pangs. Actually, it had come a long way before that particular baptism. Hillel the Elder, who lived at the turn of the 1st C, is said to have wrapped bits of Paschal lamb and bitter greens in soft matzah. As always, success has many fathers. Bits of flatbreads have been folded around amorphous or juicy foods in many lands, producing the Levantine Shawarma, the Greek Gyro, the Vietnamese Banh mi, the Mexican Burrito and the Asian Spring Roll among others.
It is curious to think that long past people were as busy and peripatetic as we are, likewise in need of fast, portable food that was healthy, nutritious and not infrequently, deliciously attractive. Who says that such moveable feasts cannot be consumed sitting down at a table with friends in leisurely enjoyment and conversation?
The wrap itself is a soft flatbread. The choices of flatbreads probably equal the number of cultures that make themselves at home on the planet, ranging from naan, lavash and tortillas to sheets of soft rice paper. On occasion, the wrap and its contents are grilled or fried. Why gild a golden lily, particularly, when it adds a step to the process?
As for the filling, almost anything can be wrapped: raw and crunchy, smoothed and sauced, spicy and sweet, mild or tangy. Taste buds can be tingled, soothed or teased. It’s an extra treat to combine diverse textures as well as flavors. Try spreading a spinach tortilla with onion jam before filling it with leftover chicken bits, diced tomatoes and lettuce. Slather a flour tortilla with yogurt tzatziki, heap a minor mound of pea shoots on top, add a spoonful of diced red or orange bell peppers, add a another spoonful of diced jicama, and a couple of crisp lettuce leaves, roll and crunch away. Or how about chunks of avocado, some crisp crumbled bacon, thin spears of raw zucchini, a few cilantro leaves and lettuce rolled up in a lavash. My all-time favorite is a tortilla PB,J&B, with chunky peanut butter, a good strawberry jelly and a banana in the middle. Wraps are too easy. ‘Bout time something was.
The wrap of the week is a spinach tortilla with bits of ham and a slice of provolone. While such doesn’t really necessitate a recipe, we have put one together just for the ease of checking an ingredients list. Obviously, it is simply begging for substitutions. Have at it.