25 Mar



When the British colonised the Indian subcontinent in the late 19th century, they brought cucumber sandwiches –popular among the upper classes back home – to the Raj. They found that the combination of succulent cucumber and buttery bread was more than just a taste of home: it helped them keep cool in the sweltering heat.
So it’s no surprise that the cucumber sandwich has been named the world’s coolest food. According to scientists from the American Chemical Society, it is the best thing to eat to regulate our body temperature and avoid dehydration during a heatwave. And it works even better washed down with a cup of tea.

cucumber sandwiches

Foods we might expect to quench our thirst –such as ice cream or chilled water – are less effective, says Sara Risch, a researcher for the society. This is because cold foods send parts of our body into shock, causing them to shut down and our temperatures to shoot up. Juicy fruit and vegetables, by contrast – like cucumber, watermelon and celery – have a high water content and natural cooling properties.

cool cucumber sandwiches

So what makes the cucumber sandwich so special? Although cucumbers originated in India more than 3,000 years ago, putting them in a sandwich is very much a British invention. The crops arrived in England in the late 14th century, but they weren’t put in sandwiches until the Victorian era, when they were served during afternoon tea. Because of its low nutritional value (cucumbers are 95 per cent water), the dish was popular among the upper classes as a pre-dinner snack; the lower classes preferred not to waste energy on something with so little protein.

cool sandwiches

In Edwardian times, plentiful coal and cheap labour meant that cucumbers, grown under glass covers, could be produced in England all year round, not just during the summer. For the past 200 years, the Lea Valley in Hertfordshire, home to Sicilian farmers producing 80 million cucumbers a year, has been the cucumber-growing capital of the UK. As the domestic industry grew, the sandwiches became a staple of high tea, and news of their refreshing qualities reached colonialists in India, Africa and Australia.

Cucumber sandwiches soon became associated with the opulent way of life in the Raj. They were served to royal guests at Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 and as lunch to first-class passengers on Indian Airlines flights.


There are now many variations on the original sandwich. There’s tuna and cucumber; egg and cucumber; even an American spread called “Benedictine”, made from puréed cucumbers and cream cheese. But the recipe for a perfect cucumber sandwich is the subject of much debate. Mayo or no mayo? Crusts on or off? According to the US scientists, only one formula will keep us cool: wholewheat bread, crusts left on, with healthy chunks of cucumber, a “slab” of mayonnaise and sea salt on top.

cucumber sandwich

Traditionalists won’t be happy. They like them the British way: juicy portions of cucumber, gently dried of excess water, sprinkled with salt and a dash of lemon juice, and served between two triangular slices of lightly buttered white bread. Crusts off, of course – and never any mayo, although perhaps a drizzle of olive oil. It’s the fresh, zingy taste of English summertime contained in a single bite.



  • Sandwich bread
  • cheese cream
  • Cucumbers
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  •  Fresh mint leaves



With a vegetable peeler, cut the cucumber lengthwise and place them in  sheets of paper to remove excess moisture.

Spread the bread with cheese cream and sheets of cucumber on it.

Cutt off crusts and from this point we can play with the forms as cookie molds: triangle, flower, star…

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a sprig of mint. Cool and Delicious!

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