Sometimes there is a food so odd, so unique, and oft-times unsettling, it creeps back up when you least expect it. And just to keep you on your toes, it changes ever so slightly. Lately, it seems to be the “frosted sandwich” (see its first appearance here). To be fair, 500 Tasty Sandwiches, edited by the director of the Culinary Arts Institute during the 1940s and 1950s, Ruth Berolzheimer, includes so much more than the merely frosted. This 1941 gem contains sandwiches that were frosted, toasted, grilled, baked, fried, filled, rolled, cut, shaped, and layered in some very creative ways.
The book also contains recipes for fancy breads, fillings, and spreads, all with an emphasis on both economy and entertaining: “Dainty colorful sandwiches such as these guarantee the success of any tea or bridge party” (26). Of course, this includes suggestions like “egg and catchup,” “peanut-butter and pickle,” and “salmon and nut.” Then there are the complex patterns and shapes to be admired: the checkerboard, the gangplank, and the treasure chest, the last of which is essentially a hollowed bread loaf refilled with sandwiches made from the center slices, then covered with the top. While modern taste buds may not like the choice of fillings, the loaf or treasure chest style does lend itself to a certain portability for picnics, travel, and feeding crowds.
It’s when we get to frosting these sandwiches (with cream cheese, rather than the whipped mayonnaise we’ve seen previously) that things start to go wrong. Besides whole frosted loaves, 500 Tasty Sandwiches brings us something new: individual sized servings. Frosted to look like cakes rounds. Or rectangles.
And the shapes don’t end there! This cookbook provides with plenty of interesting examples of structural ingenuity, as the pyramid and skyscraper recipes above indicate. It’s the ultimate opportunity to play with your food and to get creative. There are endless combinations of fillings and layers, begging to be tried…you just may not want to eat it when you’re finished…
On a final note, this publication is part of a larger set by Consolidated Book Publishers, Inc., so we shouldn’t be entirely surprised by its contents. The series includes such Special Collections favorites (a few of which have appeared on our blog before!) as:
- 500 Delicious Salads, 1940
- 300 Ways to Serve Eggs from Appetizers to Zabaglione, 1940
- The Wartime Cook Book: 500 Recipes, Victory Substitutes and Economical Suggestions for Wartime Needs, 1942 (an interesting comparison to this publication, which was likely published just before the war began–availability changed quickly!)
- 250 Ways to Serve Fresh Vegetables, 1950
- 300 Healthful Dairy Dishes, 1952
…and the list goes on. Don’t believe me? Visit the library’s catalog, Addison, and search “Berolzheimer, Ruth” as author. You’ll be amazed (and amused) to see a range of titles and editions! Plus, you’ll likely see more of them here–we have far too much food history to share!