I have a number of old ‘enquire within’ type books, which covered everything from food, to medicine, to road making and more. One thing which stands out, foodwise, is just how radically our eating habits have changed. Way back when, people ate pretty much everything, and it was rare for any bit to go unused and wasted. Food preparation was also a constant, demanding, unbelievable amount of work. There are many recipes for sauces, relishes, preserves, and so on, which were made in very large quantities, to be made every year and put up. And so on. Many of the meat recipes started with “First, catch your ____”, as hunting was still the primary way to obtain meat, fish, and fowl. As you can see from the above photo, in one my books from 1885, sandwiches were given short shrift. Not much there. Which leads us to 14 years later, and the 1909 book, The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book, by Eva Green Fuller, who provides 400 ways to make a sandwich.
The ethos of no food waste is still very clear in the 1909 book; and many people wouldn’t consider some of the sandwiches to be food at all, such as one of the tomato sandwiches:
Tomato and Onion Sandwich
Mix in a bowl some tomato catsup, season with pepper and salt and a pinch of sugar, add a little finely chopped onion, mix and place between thin slices of buttered white bread, with a crisp lettuce leaf between.
One thing that is a bit difficult to get used to is the ubiquitous use of butter when it came to bread – it didn’t matter your filling, more than half the time, the acceptable bread spread was butter. Although I have never prepared my own catsup (and boy, do I ever have recipes for it, tomato, walnut, grape, currant, gooseberry, green cucumber, pepper, green tomato, and mushroom catsups!) and I have never made a catsup sandwich, I have made sandwiches out of bread, mayo, and crisp lettuce. Maybe not terribly nutritious, but they fill the belly.
So, if you’re out of sandwich ideas, or just curious, you can have a journey of sandwiches here.