The Ladies' Tea Guild

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The history of the "club sandwich."

ClipartETC image.
I am always interested in the history behind familiar foods. Every once in a while I like to order a Club sandwich at a restaurant, but I've never made one at home. While looking through one of my vintage recipe books (this one is a promotional booklet, published in San Francisco in the early 1900s, for the "Reliable" brand of gas ranges and stoves) I not only found instructions for making the sandwich, but some history behind it.

A popular sandwich.

A sandwich greatly in favor among gentlemen, because it is substantial and appetizing and served at restaurants of established reputation for excellence of their cuisine, as the Waldorf-Astoria of New York, is generally known as the "club sandwich." With a cup of coffee or cocoa it is almost a meal of itself. Cut slices of bread about 1/4 inch in thickness, remove the crusts and reserve one half of slices to be used, plain. Toast remaining half very delicately and butter, almost imperceptibly, so little is used. Broil very thinly cut slices of bacon. Place strips of bacon on plain bread, cover with a heart leaf of lettuce, add mayonnaise dressing, daintily sliced cold chicken, and finish with toasted slice on top. Serve on leaves of lettuce, garnished with parsley, or on doily without any garnish.

Another recipe from the same booklet is for toasting marshmallows under the broiler. That sounds good, but I have a better idea: make s'mores instead! I once tried to make s'mores for a tea party by taking mini (2 inch diameter) graham cracker pie crusts from the grocery store, and filling them with a piece of a Hershey bar with a marshmallow on top, then melting the whole thing in the toaster oven. That sort of worked, although the marshmallow got toasted before the chocolate got melted, and they were hard to eat. I'll have to try toasting the marshmallows in a pan by themselves, and partially melting the chocolate on the stovetop, and then assembling the s'more with the graham crackers, the next time I do this. It sounds messy, but maybe it will be worth it!

Yes, summer is ending, and I haven't been camping or to the beach ...

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)