Traditional Czech open-faced sandwiches may be coming to US
By KAREL JANICEK
PRAGUE — Open-faced sandwiches have been a popular Czech tradition since 1916.
The sandwiches have become part of everyday life here, a universal snack that looks good, tastes good and is relatively easy to make. They can be served for any occasion, from formal receptions to informal parties or simply as an affordable fast food for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Some chefs are innovating, creating new varieties of the sandwich using fresh vegetables and greens to reflect contemporary food trends.
One sandwich-maker hopes to introduce them this year to the U.S. market.
Open-faced sandwiches are also popular in other countries, from Austria to Scandinavia, but the Czech sandwiches have some distinctive features, including their ingredients and unique look.
Here’s a look at the delicacy.
Legend says the sandwich was created by accident. It happened when a family friend of Jan Paukert, a famed Prague delicatessen owner, asked for a quick bite, something he could hold in his hand while he was working on paintings in Paukert’s cafe. He was served a smaller-than-usual slice of bread with fish paste and anchovy on it. The sandwich was then offered to customers and it’s been a hit ever since.
Today, the sandwiches are typically made with one slice of white bread, a layer of potato salad or other salad, a slice of ham, hard-boiled egg, pickled cucumber or pepper, and a parsley sprig on top. They might also have toppings like salami, cheese or fish, often with mayonnaise.
During World War II, the tempting snack was once used as a weapon, to poison four journalists collaborating with Nazi occupation forces.