January 18 '03

Volume 346

The Sandwich Name Your Favorite

Once upon a time Sandwichthe Earl of Sandwich placed a slice of meat between two slices of bread and our eating habits were forever altered. Think of it; one man is responsible for influencing the dietary choices of millions if not billions of people. I doubt he gave it much thought at the time, but he lived long enough to see his invention acclaimed and enjoyed.

One can find various accounts of the origins of the sandwich, but most credit England's John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, with the sandwich being so named. By some accounts, the Earl first observed French landowners feeding field workers a lunch of vegetables, meat, and sauce, all fitted between two slices of bread, and, upon returning to England, did the same for his workers.

It is also rumored that the Earl was so addicted to the pleasures of gambling that he would rather play cards than eat, and when he did eat, he dispatched a servant to bring him a sandwich, so he didn't have to leave the gaming table. However, others have concluded that the Earl, who suffered a wound during a naval battle at age seventeen and developed a gastro-intestinal disorder so severe he could only ingest liquids, could not have eaten a sandwich had he wanted one.

The whole truth may not be known, but unlike the inventor of the wheel and the discoverer of fire, individuals whose names were not recorded for posterity, the Earl's name has become synonymous with one of the Western World's most famous foods. The inventor of the wheel probably got run over by the thing, and the person who discovered fire was no doubt consumed by his work. As for the sandwich, it really doesn't matter whether John Montague ate one or not, the sandwich has immortalized him.

Montague's namesake was popularized in his lifetime (1718-1792), and variations on the original sandwich abound today, so much so that fast food is the principal food source for some Americans. Restaurant chains such as McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Subway, Arby's, Chick-fil-A, Peppers, O'Charley's, along with a host of others have capitalized on the popularity of the sandwich.

As a youth, I marveled at the sandwiches built by the cartoon character, Dagwood Bumstead. The ones my mother made were not marvels, but they were always delicious. I'm a pretty fair cook, and I can make a decent sandwich, but my wife makes a better sandwich. I don't understand it. We use the same bread, same meat, same dressings and toppings, and still the one she makes tastes better to me. I'm not buttering up my wife, either; I'm just stating a fact.

A popular sandwich around my house is a grilled cheese sandwich. I prefer American cheese between slices of whole wheat bread. My son is slowly developing a taste for wheat bread, but he still prefers his grilled cheese on white bread. He managed to teach me something the other day about sandwich making. I watched him toast two slices of bread in a toaster, butter one side of each toast, place a slice of cheese inside the sandwich, keeping the buttered side to the outside, then heat the sandwich in the microwave long enough to melt the cheese.

It had all the right ingredients, but it never hit the grill, which begs the question, "Is it a grilled cheese sandwich?"

Technically speaking, it's probably not a grilled cheese sandwich, but Jason doesn't care. He finds it quicker to fix than grabbing the griddle and preparing it the old-fashioned way. I've not tried his concoction, largely because I don't like bread that's been microwaved.

Supposedly, the world's most popular sandwich is the hamburger, but I figure that's due to the billions sold in America. Oddly, I don't think of a hamburger as a sandwich, though it most surely is a meat between slices of bread. For me, a sandwich should have loaf-bread, rather than a hard or soft roll, bun, or other bread item.

In preparing to write this article, I asked a few folks to name their favorite sandwich. Around the breakfast table, last Saturday, Josh O'Grady stated that his favorite sandwich was peanut butter with strawberry jelly. Jason said his was tuna for a cold sandwich and a Rueben sandwich topped his list for a hot sandwich. For Jason, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a close second to the tuna. I didn't ask Jason what type of jelly he preferred; I knew the answer would be grape.

Barbara's all-time favorite sandwich is peanut butter and banana, and she prefers the banana mashed and blended with the peanut butter. However, she doesn't like the mess made in the process and sometimes slices a banana and layers it on top of the peanut butter. Her favorite hot sandwich is a Rueben, a real Rueben, not the stripped down version that Jason calls a Rueben.

Brother Joe Steen stopped by to pick up Josh for a Habitat for Humanity workday and was also polled. Brother Joe's favorite sandwich is peanut butter. It doesn't matter if it's smooth or crunchy.

Hours later, my sister Sara Sue, without a moment's hesitation, stated that her all-time favorite was a hot roast beef from Pasquale's in Tupelo.

Whether spoken in jest or not is uncertain, but she remarked, "The only reason I married Jerry Brown is because he took me to Pasquales.

A few readers sent a response via email.

Dusty Parker had trouble deciding on a favorite:

  1. Fill-up Burger from Phillip's Grocery in Holly Springs, MS: voted one of the 10 best hamburgers in the nation by USA Today. The Phillip's Grocery in Oxford doesn't even compare.
  2. Barbeque sandwich from Lep's Barbeque right here in Pontotoc: several times winner of the pork-cooking contest at Mississippi State University.
  3. Rueben sandwich from Kirk's Grill, right here in Pontotoc, fantastic, and made complete when accompanied with a Kirk's Grill vanilla malt, one of the best malts on earth.
  4. Tomato sandwich on wheat, with plenty of mayonnaise, made only with real (not greenhouse) tomatoes...eaten over the sink, of course.
  5. Any sandwich fixed for me by my wife Wanda, because she makes a great sandwich, and I didn't have to make it myself.

Linda Thomas spun a memory that goes back to her first pregnancy.

When Keith and I were first married we wasted no time starting our family. Having always been a bit squeamish about mixing certain foods, at this "delicate" time, I could hardly stand my foods touching on the plate.

One Sunday afternoon Keith decided he wanted a peanut butter and banana sandwich. This would not have been a difficult order except that he wanted it all "squished" together, spread on the bread and mayonnaise added! That was way too much for my queasy stomach!

We happened to be at my parents' home when Keith was hit with this craving. Being a young married man, with his masculinity threatened by my refusal, he decided to be a "he-man" and "make" me mix up that sandwich. Well, my saintly mother knew that would be disastrous. She had held my head many times when certain foods did not appeal to me and my father tried to force me to try new things. Mother knew if I smelled that peanut butter/ banana/ mayonnaise disaster I would be violently ill.

Of course, my Dad was all for my "having" to make this sandwich for MY MAN. But, my wonderful mother came to the rescue, made the sandwich, and avoided having to play nurse for a few hours.

Oh, and about those sandwiches, Keith rarely, if ever, has one now. I guess he still remembers how hard it was to get one made 40 years ago. And he has to make it himself!

Bob Jackson finds something wonderful about an egg salad sandwich.

I have a sandwich recipe that may not be my favorite recipe, but it is a darn good sandwich for some occasions. Mitzi likes for me to make it.

Boil one egg per sandwich. Mash up with fork and mix about 1 lg tablespoon of mayonnaise per egg. Careful not to get too much. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of pickle relish, 1 tsp. of vinegar per egg, and salt and pepper to taste. mix thoroughly and spread on bread, toasted or untoasted. I just call it an egg salad sandwich.

If I can't keep it all on the bread I just eat it with a fork. It's too good to waste.

At the time of this writing, I'm trying to make a deadline of Sunday, as I will be out of state for the workweek. I expect more persons whom I emailed to respond to my survey, and when they do, I'll let readers know more about what folks consider their favorite sandwich.

My personal choice of a cold sandwich is a BLT, while a peanut butter and marshmallow cream on wheat runs a close second. Like Dusty Parker, I want a real tomato, and I prefer those tomatoes that have enough acid in them to sting my taste buds. In a pinch, I can do without the bacon and the lettuce, but I spread my sandwich with Miracle Whip brand salad dressing instead of mayonnaise.

I mentioned a Dagwood Bumstead sandwich earlier and am including the recipe for one:

Dagwood Bumstead Sandwich

3 large onions, sliced
1 head lettuce
4 tomatoes, sliced
1 lobster tail
1 eagle talon
1 fish (preferably 2 days old)
1 pot spaghetti - cold and gooey
1 lb. bacon
1 meatloaf
1 ham
1 fried egg (over easy)
1 string of sausages
1 gallon mayonnaise
1 jar of pickle relish
1 tin of sardines in oil
1 bottle of ketchup
1 bottle sweet mustard
1 bottle hot mustard
1 loaf bread
assorted cheeses, vegetables and olives

Now that he has announced that he's joining his wife's catering business, cartoon chow-hound Dagwood Bumstead is releasing the recipe for his famous Dagwood Sandwich. See ingredients above. See directions below.

DIRECTIONS: Arrange the ingredients between two slices of bread. Serves one.

The Syrup Lady A Sweet Subject

There is something about the Internet that intrigues me. I don't care to understand how it all works, I'm just glad it's available. For me, having Internet access is akin to having a huge encyclopedia at my fingertips, except that I don't have to flip from page to page to lookup something. I just type a few key words into a search program and BAM, a thousand or so references show up in the blink of an eye.

If one is seeking anonymity, one will not find it on the Internet. If your name has ever been mentioned in this newsletter and that newsletter is also on my website, one of the newfangled search engines will locate it.

For example, I searched for "Aunt Jo," and found 2,330 references, most of which had nothing to do with my aunt. However, knowing I had written about her on prior occasions, I narrowed the search by adding "ridge" to "Aunt Jo." The program found 88 references. Scanning the first couple of pages of the results, I saw Aunt Jo mentioned in Ridge Rider News a handful of times.

I suppose that apart from the breadth of information available on the Internet, it's the search engines that intrigue me most.

I've mentioned Golden Eagle Syrup on more than one occasion in this newsletter and have devoted two or more articles to my enjoyment of the honey-like syrup. Thus, if someone were using the Internet to locate information about Golden Eagle Syrup, they would find several instances of its mention on my website.

I received an email recently from a lady (Jean Molnar) of Columbus, GA, who lamented she had just opened the last jar of Golden Eagle Syrup in her city. She went on to say how her family loved her pecan pies made with Golden Eagle Syrup. As damsels in distress sometimes do, she asked if I could help her. How could I say no? Here was a person willing to pay me to ship her some syrup, if only I would. I have no idea what she looks like, but she must be beautiful. Women who eat Golden Eagle Syrup are truly beautiful.

I do not know her age, but she must be older than me. She mentioned once buying Golden Eagle Syrup in cans. I grew up eating Golden Eagle Syrup, and I've never seen it sold in a can.

I wrote her to say I would be happy to help her, but that she could purchase the syrup by the case on the Internet a lot cheaper than I could buy it locally and ship it to her. After several notes to one another, she explained a friend had found the syrup in a Winn Dixie Supermarket she had not visited, so she bought enough to last her a while.

She also sent me her Pecan Pie recipe that differs slightly from the one on the Golden Eagle label. She said it "came from a tiny restaurant somewhere in
Mississippi sometime in the 70's."

3 Eggs
1/4 pound butter
dash salt
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
heaping tsp cornstarch
3/4 cup Golden Eagle Syrup
About 1 cup pecans [chopped]
Put pecans in unbaked pie shell, melt butter add the rest. Cook at 350 degrees 45 minutes or maybe 10 minutes more.

After our several notes, I feel like I have a new friend in Georgia, someone we think of around our house as "The Syrup Lady."  I have promised to try her favorite pecan pie recipe. She comments that she is enjoying reading the "Ridge Runner News." No, I didn't correct her. Sweet dreams Miss Jean, sweet Golden Eagle dreams.

Bodock Beau Smokers & Golfers

Now that we know the truth about nicotine addiction and the health risks associated with cigarettes, there is less to find funny about smoking. Still, it doesn't hurt to laugh at these:

  1. Remember, smoking doesn't kill people...people who are trying to quit smoking kill people.
  2. One poll says 73% of Americans favor raising the cigarette tax. It's only fair. Since smokers aren't around as long as the rest of us, they should pay more while they're here.
  3. I quit smoking once for six days - then they untied me.
  4. Trying to quit smoking can drive you nuts -- especially when you try to light your nicotine gum.
  5. I stopped smoking and extended my life expectancy...Boy is my wife really hacked!

A Golf Pro And A Priest

A fellow is getting ready to tee-off on the first hole when a second fellow approaches and asks if he can join him. The first says that he usually plays alone but agrees to let the second guy join him. Both are even after the first couple of holes.

The second guy says, "Say, we're about evenly matched, how about we play for five bucks a hole?"

The first fellow says that he usually plays alone and doesn't like to bet but agrees to the terms. Well, the second guy wins the rest of the holes and as they're walking off of the eighteenth hole, he confesses that he's the pro at a neighboring course. The first fellow reveals that he's the Parish Priest at the local Catholic Church to which the second fellow gets all flustered and apologetic and offers to give the Priest back his money.

The Priest says, "No, you won fair and square, and I was foolish to bet with you. Keep your winnings."

The pro says, "Well, is there anything I can do to make it up to you?"

The Priest says, "Well, you could come to Mass on Sunday and make a donation. Then, if you bring your mother and father by after Mass, I'll marry them for you."

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