The tramezzino is an elegant type of sandwich that is very popular in Italy. They are untoasted triangular sandwiches made of soft, white bread with the crust removed and contain a large variety of fillings. Similar to English tea sandwiches, they are hugely popular in Rome, Turin, and Venice.
There's a huge amount of debate over the origins of this delicate sandwich. Venetians argue that the tramezzino first came into being in Mestre in the late 1950s. Others believe that they are native to Turin and that the Cafe Mulassano, which is famous even today for its tramezzini, first served them in 1925. Some are of the opinion that it was an import, bought to Turin or Venice by someone who had visited England.
A very famous poet and writer called Gabriele D’Annunzio is credited with naming tramezzino and thus "Italianizing" the English word for the humble sandwich. There are various interpretations of the word tramezzino, but it can be understood as "between the two" or a "little something in the middle" or as a "snack in between."
The basic formula for a tramezzino remains the same everywhere it is made. The bread is a very important ingredient, and some even guard the secret of the baking process. The tramezzino is made of moist, soft, white bread with the crusts cut off. Care is taken to ensure that the bread is neither too soft or too spongy. Slices of white bread are cut diagonally into triangular shapes, which are then coated with just the right amount of mayonnaise.
A deft hand is required as too much mayonnaise makes it a soggy mess that falls apart easily, and too little leaves the bread a bit dry. The stuffings vary from place to place. Standard stuffings include ingredients like boiled ham, capers, cheese, tuna, and canned mushrooms. Other stuffings could contain hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, arugula, and pickles. The sky's the limit when it comes to stuffings and combinations, and some restaurants are known to have up to 40 different types of tramezzini.
The way the sandwiches are constructed also varies. Typically, a small amount of stuffing is placed between two slices of white bread. Some people, however, use three slices of bread instead of two, and others pile them high with a very large number of stuffings. The tramezinno can also be thought of as the Italian version of the popular club sandwich.
To qualify as a real tramezzino, the sandwich must both be a delight to the eye and to the taste buds. Freshly made tramezinni are arranged according to the color of their fillings behind glass cases in display windows. An authentic tramezzino is thin and elegant, made of fresh bread and fillings, and contains a lot of flavor. People eat these petite sandwiches at all times of the day, though they are usually best when eaten in the morning. They are found in many bars and restaurants throughout Italy and are perfect as light appetizers or as a quick, complete lunch.