The Art of Cooking and Serving
by Sarah Field Splint
Proctor & Gamble, approx. 1932
The cover art attracted me to this little book–I love me some Art Deco. The author’s name sounds like a pseudonym a la Betty Crocker, but apparently Splint was a homemaking editor at McCall’s magazine and elsewhere.
The front matter includes this gem: “Are your meals in a rut? The appliances on pages 35 to 38 make old dishes new.” What was new at that time: measuring cups, cooking thermometers, muffin tins, gelatin molds, etc. I wonder what cooks of yesteryear would think of today’s immersion blenders, food processors, and crockpots?
One thing that I find intriguing about this book is that it differentiates between table service in the servantless house and in houses with servants, which reminds me of Downton Abbey. But I’m saving that post for another day, because today I want to talk about sandwiches. A chapter in my current work-in-progress features strange sandwiches (don’t ask) so the Sandwich chapter in this book is a good diversion.
It starts with a reference to the Earl of Sandwich folklore, and says, “If this story is true we owe him a debt, for sandwiches are a convenient and delicious food for school lunches, afternoon teas, picnics, and motor parties. They are even becoming a “square meal” when made of hot meat and thick, rich gravy.” Isn’t it funny to think about sandwiches as a novelty or trendy food?
The book includes recipes for the old standbys: ham, club, chicken salad. But there are many peculiar and unappetizing ones: cheese and pickle, egg and olive, lettuce, nut and raisin, pickled walnut and cheese. The chapter ends with Wide Open Sandwiches, which are essentially open-faced ham/egg/pickle salad sandwiches. Revolutionary.
As I looked over the recipes, a common theme emerged: Crisco. It’s in every sandwich. Even peanut butter is not paired with jelly, but with Crisco Spread. There is a special recipe for Crisco “spread” which I will share below. This was the point where I realized the book was essentially an advertising piece for Crisco…but an artfully done one with many chapters that don’t even mention Crisco! There are general tips for sandwich success (use day-old bread; try toasting the bread to mix things up, etc.) and most sandwich recipes end with the direction to cut in fancy shapes. Charming.
For the curious and strong of stomach:
CRISCO SANDWICH SPREAD
1 cup Crisco
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp mustard
1/8 tsp paprika
few grains cayenne
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 TBS lemon juice
2 1/2 TBS vinegar
Cream Crisco. Add egg yolk slowly and beat well. Mix mustard, paprika, cayenne, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice together and stir into the first mixture. Add vinegar, beating in a little at a time. Mix thoroughly. This will keep in a cool place for several weeks. If it becomes hard, warm slightly and beat to proper consistency.
[Hope says: in a cool place? How about a REFRIGERATOR? If it becomes hard? It’s got raw egg yolk in it. Maybe you mean, “if it turns rancid.” ?!]
LETTUCE SANDWICH [note: a.k.a. the anti-manwich!]
Cut thin slices of white or whole wheat bread and trim off the crusts. [Note: Sliced bread was not yet a staple!] Spread lightly with Crisco Spread. Lay a crisp leaf of lettuce on a slice of bread, spread with mayonnaise Dressing, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with another slice of bread and cut sandwich in halves diagonally. Serve at once. [Hope says: And stand back, because there’s sure to be a stampede at the buffet for these babies.]
NUT AND RAISIN SANDWICH
Cut thin slices of white or graham bread and trim off crusts. Spread lightly with Crisco Spread. Make a filling of 1 cup chopped raisins and 1/4 cup chopped nuts moistened with Mayonnaise Dressing. Spread between two slices of bread. Cut with round cooky cutter.
Interesting side note: when I googled the author, I discovered that this book features prominently in a Margaret Atwood novel, Moral Disorder. You can read about that book here.