Writing Revisited: Gesta Sandovechii

De Origine Sandwiches.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Realmgard is essentially “The 1600s, except when it’s funny.” Which is why we’ve got Golden Age of Piracy Pirates eating ice cream and playing what is essentially Dungeons and Dragons.

Also, sandwiches. In real life, using bread as a food delivery system has basically happened for as long as bread has existed. However, what we’d recognise as a sandwich only emerged in 18th-century Britain when John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich (it’s in Kent; the name is from the Old English for something like ‘Town on the Sand”) is reputed to have started sticking meat between two pieces of bread to be able to eat while gambling.

Emperor Theobald is basically Realmgard Charlemagne (Big Chuck to his friends) and the name Sandovech is ultimately inspired by Merovech, the legendary founder of the Merovingian Dynasty, so as to look suitably Germanic and also a plausible in-world origin for the word “sandwich.”

“Why are they called sandwiches?” Dunstana asks. “They’re not made of sand!”

“Or witches,” Sally notes.

“I know!” Dunstana says. “It’s weird! They should be called, like, bread-hugs, or something. Who thinks up these names?”

Dunstana and Sally turn expectantly to Annie, who stops mid-bite of her sandwich when she notices she’s being stared at.

“Well, um,” she says, swallowing the bite of sandwich. “Although the history of people using bread to hold food goes back hundreds or thousands of years, the story goes that what we’d call sandwiches were first popularised by Emperor Theobald’s personal chef Sandovech.”

“Uh-huh, uh-huh,” Dunstana and Sally say, nodding along eagerly with Annie’s explanation.

“Emperor Theobald was a busy man, so he wanted an easier, more convenient way to eat lunch,” Annie continues. “So he told his provisioners and stewards to think up a newer, better way to hold food with other food.”

“Uh-huh, uh-huh.”

“Sandovech was the first one to suggest using two pieces of bread, Emperor Theobald liked it, and rewarded Sandovech with a duchy.”

“Wow,” Dunstana and Sally say in unison.

Sally grins and holds up her beloved blue bunny doll. “Count Bunnyescu is impressed, too,” she declares.

“How do you know all this stuff, Annie?” Dunstana asks.

Annie shrugs. “I read a lot of books, I guess,” she says.

“Hey, Matilda!” Sally calls to her big sister as she passes by. “Do you know why they’re called sandwiches?”

“Even though they’re not made of sand or witches?” Dunstana adds.

“Well,” Matilda says, “I think it’s because they’re…” She moves her hand over her mouth and sort of mumbles a stream of nonsense that could be easily interpreted as anything.

“Tell her, Annie! Tell her!” Sally urges, eagerly shaking a thoroughly bemused Annie by the shoulders.

“Well, Annie says,” glancing up at Matilda, then promptly looking everywhere but at Matilda. “It’s because the story goes that they were invented by Sandovech, Emperor Theobald’s personal chef.”

“Right,” Matilda says with a nod. “That’s what I said —” She moves her hand over her mouth and sort of mumbles the same stream of nonsense that could be easily interpreted as anything.

“That is not what you said,” Sally notes. She holds up Count Bunnyescu. “Behold Count Bunnyescu’s withering gaze of disapproval and be ashamed, Matilda.”

As far as Matilda can tell, Count Bunnyescu’s gaze is exactly the same as it ever his. Though those beady little button eyes of his are kind of creepy.

“Sally,” Matilda asks, “since when do you know how to use phrases like withering gaze of disapproval?

Sally grins broadly. “Annie’s teaching me big, cool words!” she explains. She quickly turns to Annie. “I need a new word, Annie!”

“Um,” Annie says thoughtfully, “Stevedore?”

“Uh-huh, uh-huh,” Sally says. “And what’s it mean?”

“It’s —”

“How guys named Steve get into a building?” Dunstana asks eagerly.

“Uh, no, Dunstana,” Annie says. “It’s somebody who loads or unloads a ship.”

Sally looks up at her sister. “Hey, Matilda. You’re looking like a real stevedore today,” she declares, grinning broadly again.

“Eat your sandwich,” Matilda says, walking away from the table.

“So, this Sandovech guy,” Dunstana ventures, “was he either a witch or made of sand?”

I don’t know about you, but I think I’m going to start calling them “bread-hugs”…

All my other short writing exercises are here.

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