H is for Hoagie

File:Mmm... BBQd pork on a fresh hoagie roll (6066206126).jpg

What would I call this if I was in the UK? A sandwich? A sub, maybe? I think ‘sub’ would be an Americanism. How about a filled roll?

Hoagie well deserves its place as the first word in my Transatlantic dictionary. From that fountain of fairly reliable knowledge, Wikipedia, I have learned today that hoagie is a local Philadelphian term for an Italian bread sandwich which in other parts of this fine country might be called:

a submarine sandwich (I get that),

a hero sandwich (that’s new!)

Italian Sandwich (got the picture),

sub (keeping it simple),

torpedo (descriptive),

baguette (not in my book),

or a grinder (stand out favourite!).

I wonder if anyone has ever written an essay or thesis about the language of bread? If not, perhaps someone should. I remember when I first moved to the North of England from Edinburgh being amazed by the variety of terms available for the thing I would simply have called a roll. There are baps and barm cakes, oven bottoms, stottie cakes, tea cakes and scones. And that’s before we even consider muffins, crumpets and the lesser spotted pikelets.

It occurs to me that not only is bread nomenclature a much neglected area of study, but that the fillings of hoagies (and their cultural cousins) is another forgotten field with great revelatory potential. Here is a ‘transcript’ of a conversation I had in a supermarket/grocery store recently.

Server: What would you like on your hoagie?

Me: Ham, swiss cheese and butter

Server: Butter? (and collapses in a fit of giggles)

Butter, I learned, is not used in a hoagie. Mayonaise, yes, mustard, yes, butter no. But then the unofficial regional dish of choice here is the Cheesesteak. Who needs butter when you can add cheese to everything?


4 Comments Add yours

  1. The pedant says:

    “Sub” came across the Atlantic around the same time as Subway, I suspect. So it would work. I’ve seen this sort of shape of bread described as a Mini-Baguette, Sainsbury’s also call them “sub rolls”

  2. The Translator says:

    I’m with you on that, Pedant. And I’m assuming that Subway is named after its main seller and that ‘sub’ is short for submarine, taking its name from its shape. That doesn’t work for hoagie though, which gets me thinking…

  3. Jon Hill says:

    You could probably do a whole entry on the Cheesesteak itself – I remember being introduced to one of those and being quite surprised that bread was part of the equation…!

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