Did you know that August is National Panini Month? If you’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying one of these Italian-style toasted sandwiches, you’ll agree that they deserve to be celebrated for a whole month. Technically, in Italian “panini” is plural, and if we’re talking about just one sandwich, we should call it a “panino.” But we’ve Anglicized the word, and if you pop to your favorite cafe for some “lunch near me” and order a panini, they’re not going to hand you loads of sandwiches.
But how much do you know about the panini? Let’s dig in to their delicious history.
A Working Lunch
Although we didn’t really see paninis on restaurant lunch menus until the last few decades, Italians ate them as early as the 16th century. The first written record we have is in an Italian cookbook from that time. The panini probably started in Lombardy, a leading commercial and industrial region in Italy. The workers of the region ate panini as a convenient lunch.
The Sandwich Bar
Early in the 20th century, the panini made its way over to America, but it didn’t really take off for a while. The panini owes its modern popularity to sandwich bars in Milan in the 1970s and 80s. The bars were called “paninoteche” and the patrons, usually fashionable young people, were known as “paninaro.” Other visitors to the sandwich bars could easily spot them by their trendy clothing and penchant for hanging around in the bar for hours.
Thomas Edison’s Panini Press
Today, when we think of a panini, we usually think of the grill it’s toasted on, often called the panini press. But did you know that Thomas Edison invented the panini press? Although Milan’s sandwich bars were decades away, toasted sandwiches were still gaining popularity in the early 1900s, and the need for a sandwich grill arose. Edison invented a grill with cast iron plates that heated the sandwich from the top and bottom while pressing it flat. Although Edison debuted his invention 100 years ago, the design of today’s panini presses has not changed very much.
Lunch Near Me at 7 Kingdoms Cafe
If you’re hungry after all that history, we can’t blame you! Come to 7 Kingdoms Cafe and grab a panini for a quick and delicious “lunch near me.” We make ours fresh every day, and we have vegetarian options.