Cookin' The Books: The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches

A sandwich may seem like a humble everyday food, but it's the Walt Whitman of the kitchen: it contains multitudes.

The options for what you can slap, press, and spread between two slices of bread are endless -- and they're all compiled in the entertaining, comprehensive, and mouth-wateringly-photographed The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches by food blogger Susan Russo.

The 299-page book features "recipes, history, and trivia for everything between sliced bread" -- and includes a handy ingredient index so you can plan the perfect sandwich with Nutella, cucumbers, cookies, pears, Halibut, and whatever else you might have on hand in the fridge, larder, pantry or bread box.

There's a sandwich for every meal - from breakfast to dessert - and from a variety of food cultures, from the Bahn Mi of Vietnam to the Chip Butty of Britain, the Hot Brown of Kentucky, the Torta of Mexico, and Tuna Nicoise of France. And the good ol' USA is represented with the Ham Sandwich, PB&J,  the Po' Boy, and Sliders.

Russo does a fantastic job blending the basic culinary knowledge with fun facts on each sandwich and variations on each one to mix it up and create your own signature sandwich.

Confession: I'm not a big sub sandwich/hoagie eater, and I usually pass on most dry bread sandwiches, but Russo's shown me there's more than just ham and cheese and tuna salad out there. I've already made the Caprese Sandwich (tomato, mozzarella, basil and olive oil on a baguette), and I plan on trying several more.

This is must-have for anyone who loves their sandwiches,  moms who need quick fixes for lunches, those who get bored with basic bread like myself, and trivia lovers who want to know more than the standard "the Earl of Sandwich made the first sandwich" facts.

For example, the hot ham and cheese Croque Monsieur loosely translates to "Mister Crunch" or "Mister Crisp" and the Reuben is credited to a Manhattan deli owner who whipped up the sandwich for a hungry actress in 1914.

From A to Z, this book is a delicious addition to your cookbook stack or bookshelf.

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from publisher Quirk, but I was not paid for this review.