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The Gatsby – A Cape Town Submarine Sandwich

May 22, 2015

gatsby sandwich

When you hear the word ‘Gatsby’, you probably remember the story – or the film – about the mysterious millionaire, the parties, cocktails, flapper dresses and broken American dreams. But when residents of the Mother City hear it, they picture a great foot-long sandwich stuffed with hot chips, dripping with sauce and crammed with all sorts of delights from steak to seafood, and chicken to cheese.

So the two are poles apart, except for the association with decadent excess, but apparently this stupendous stacked sandwich that’s become the trademark of Capetonian fast food shops was actually named after the famous F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.

We at Penny Lane Lodge have heard that the story goes back to 1976 when Rashaad Pandy, a shop owner in Athlone, found he had nothing to feed the labourers who’d been working on a piece of property for him. So he grabbed what he had to hand and stuffed a round Portuguese roll with polony and chips and topped if off with achar then chopped the loaf into four so they could all enjoy a piece.

On tasting the roll, one of the men, called Froggie, who had recently watched the film The Great Gatsby at the Athlone Theatre, gleefully exclaimed, “this is a Gatsby smash”, meaning, it’s a winning dish,. The following day, Rashaad put out a few of the all-in-one buns for sale in his store. Suddenly the Gatsby was born and it went down a storm!

jay gatsby

Today, the round roll has been replaced with a long loaf so it’s easy to cut up (Gatsbies are meant to be shared amongst several people), and many new fillings have been invented. You will find everything from a masala steak and cheese option to a calamari and fish combo, to a vienna, russian sausage and polony creation known as a Full House. However, the Gatsby’s popularity remains unchanged and for many people, especially those living on the Cape Flats, this spectacular sandwich has become a cultural symbol and an important part of their heritage.


From → Food and drink

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