Unnatural Disasters.

Several years ago I spied—and snagged—a book from Ben’s basement: The Sandwich Book: The modern art of sandwich making for all occasions. Months went by and the book from 1964 collected dust, waiting to be used. Two Saturdays ago, I finally had an occasion to resurrect the historic wonders nearly lost forever in the pages of this full-out authority on sandwiches; my home was the second stop on a progressive dinner featuring home brews in Clintonville. Naturally, my first instinct regarding feeding some of my local culinary heroes was to serve them some of the craziest things I’ve ever seen.

An except from the book cover, to prepare you:

Recipes for every imaginable kind of sandwich — open-face, super-hero, hot and hearty baked, broiled, and sautéed sandwiches and saucewiches, peel-deals, wrap-ups and stack-ups, “sloppy Joes” and dainty tea sandwiches — about in this marvelous book. But more than a recipe book, The Sandwich Book overflows with imaginative, unusual, festive, and gay suggestions which will inspire every sandwichmaker to create his own personal masterpieces.


Friends, let it be known: this sandwichmaker is now inspired. And maybe a little bit disgusted, as well.

After flipping through this thorough treatise on all things that could ever be nestled inside bread, I chose selections that would showcase a variety of the sandwiches described. Above, you’ll see the fillings for the ham and cheese “surfside roller.” The authors (Ann Seranne and Eileen Gaden) highly recommend Frankfurter buns, as they make “excellent containers for picnic portables.” With no shortage of mayonnaise (or texture) this sandwich gained points for being the least weird.

Next up, something our esteemed authors call the “salmon sandwich babs”. I have no idea what a babs is, but I assume that it may have something to do with the cauliflower head. I have an admission about the pictured sandwich creation; I decided, during the process of making it, that I would not eat it. And I served it to guests, anyway. (I will never commit such an atrocity again.)

Not only does this vision contain the pyrotechnics of the sandwich world (skewers, duh), it also contains the most disgusting food-stuff I’ve ever encountered: canned salmon. (For perspective, please remember that I’ve eaten pork blood.) The ladies start off the recipe for the babs with an outright lie, “Canned salmon makes an ideal sandwich filling.” While it does mold together with mayonnaise, crushed pineapple and pecans quite nicely, it also contains tendons and parts that one does not expect to find in a can. I am perfectly happy picking meat off of the bones of a fresh fish. I am not, however, okay with picking bones from the meat of a canned fish. I spent twenty minutes running my fingers through the sandwich mixture, removing pieces and parts for my guests. Gross, gross, gross.

I did make a sandwich from outside the book: a simple tuna melt featuring white cheddar and Bonito del Norte canned tuna (a favorite of Chef Carmichael), and by far the best canned ingredient I encountered that day. Pictured with the tuna melt are two sandwiches whose fillings are designed to “go together.” One features a mixture of cottage cheese, green onions and cucumber (not a bad combination, really). The other—the one that earned the “most leftovers” award—was made up of peanut butter, mayonnaise, pickle relish and bacon.

Before Saturday, I would not have thought that suspending sandwiches over raw produce would make sense. That’s because I’d never tried the least practical of all sandwiches, ever: the accordion. I have to admit, the ham and cheese accordion was fun to assemble. It required a grill, a giant skewer, and the methodical buttering of an entire loaf of bread; it was definitely a spectacle. But it wasn’t until the cheese and ham (placed in between each slice of bread, as directed) were welded together that I realized that this sandwich was virtually impossible to eat; it was a giant, stuck-together mess of melted ham and cheese, with no clean area for fingers (or even utensils) to maneuver. Luckily, by the time the accordion was done, most people were full and ready to head to the next stop along the way.

It’s not very likely that this book will have such a starring role in future dinner parties, but I’ll keep it around, anyway. At worst, it’s a conversation piece. And I haven’t tried everything in it yet. The chapter on saucewiches may call my name some day.

All recipes from The Sandwich Book: The modern art of sandwich making for all occasions, by Ann Seranne and Eileen Gaden.

Ham Cheese Surfside Roller

1 cup finely chopped cooked ham
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped sweet pickle
1/3 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients. mix lightly but well, and chill until ready to pack and carry. Makes filling for 4 surfside rollers.

Salmon Sandwich Babs

Make small round or square sandwiches with a generous filling of salmon spread between, and arrange on wooden skewers. Insert end of skewers into a head of cauliflower set into a bowl or basket and surround with salad greens. (Note: I quickly learned that sandwiches slide down skewers; chunks of vegetables are required to inhibit gravity.)

A small can of salmon (7 3/4 ounces), drained and flaked, makes 1 cup. When mixed with other ingredients in the following recipe it makes a spread for 4 sandwiches. Combine 1 cup flaked salmon with 1/4 cup drained crushed pineapple, 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and mayonnaise to bind.

Cottage Cheese and Cucumber Go Together Filling

1 cup cream-style cottage cheese
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and chill until ready to fill buttered slices of white sandwich bread. Makes 2 hearty sandwiches.

Peanut Butter and Bacon Go Together Filling

3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pickled relish or chili sauce
4 tablespoons cooked minced bacon

Combine all ingredients and spread between slices of buttered bread or toast. Makes filling for 3 sandwiches.

Cheese Ham Accordion

Put a skewer through the center of a loaf of sliced sandwich bread. Spread soft butter between each slice, turning loaf from side to side. Fold slice of ham into a triangle and slip into each slice in section below skewer. Cut sliced cheese diagonally to center and slip a slice between each bread slice. Wrap bread, filling, and skewer in buttered aluminum foil and grill four to five minutes on each side. Serve hot. Served four or five.

*Thanks to Brian Kellet for taking some of the pictures.

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5 thoughts on “Unnatural Disasters.

  1. Anne says:

    Don’t you think it’s weird that canned tuna is fine, but canned salmon is disgusting? We recently opened a can of smoked salmon pate, hoping for something befitting the gourmet associations one makes with the word “pate,” only to discover that it made better cat food than people food. Our hungry gray feline devoured it with gusto.

  2. Jill says:

    I think I would have been better if the can only contained salmon meat. :|

  3. Sarah says:

    I beg you to never, ever make anything called a “saucewich.” Please.

  4. Amanda says:

    Oh my gosh.

    I laughed a ton while reading this post! My new favorite Jill post :) While I am usually open to anything featuring Bacon, I cannot even read the description of the Peanut Butter and Bacon Go Together w/o my stomach turning a little bit. Good Lord that sounds awful.

    Hilarious. I need to read this cookbook!

  5. Jane says:

    LOL thank you, Jill – that was a fun read :)

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