In digging through detritus from what remains of my wife's aunt's estate I came across a cunning little paperback, published in 1942.
It turned out to be a patriotic pamphlet with a picture of a minuteman on the back and an admonition to work hard and conserve food and beat the Hun. On the cover was a picture of a triple decker sandwich and the title "Cedric Adams Sandwich Book of all Nations: 400 New Ways of Making Delicious Sandwiches. Available Only Through National Food Stores."
A wowser of a find! Because: A. I'm a great devourer of sandwiches; B. I'm a fan of Cedric Adams, late of WCCO radio and the Minneapolis news scene.
Sandwiches! What food these morsels be! To lift a line from the Bard, and what better way to fight the war effort by shopping at National and eating the humble sandwich, invented by the Earl of, so he could devote more time to winning battles or playing whist or whatever? I did my share back then as a little shaver, emulating Dagwood Bumstead whenever mother wasn't looking and gorging on grandma's radish sandwich on her homemade white bread smeared with soft butter, enlivened by chopped chives.
So what would I find in Adams' wonderful new book? 400 recipes, that's what. Those who remember him, will remember his fascination with fine food. Even the sandwiches he scarfed at Charlie's Cafe Exceptionale weren't your run of the mill PB and ho-hums. As I recall Charlie's served a Cedric Adams Sandwich, a clubby number with ham, turkey, bacon, hollandaise sauce and a variety of toothsome vegetables.
So it's no surprise that Cedric kicked off the book with seven fried oyster sandwiches, a flock of caviar sandwiches and seven different lobster sandwiches. For the "let em eat cake crowd" Cedric included a sandwich only appropriate to an Episcopalian ladies' aid. That would be "American Whipped Cream Sandwich: One cup of heavy whipped cream, one tablespoonful of powdered sugar. Beat until solid, add three drops of vanilla. Let it become chilled, then spread on lady fingers, press together and eat as soon as made."
Cedric Adams came from hardy western Minnesota stock and wasn't about to forget folks who couldn't afford expensive ingredients. Here's my least favorite:
SWISS STRING BEAN SALAD: "Cook string beans until tender. When cooked, cut in small pieces, add a chopped onion and a few chopped English walnut meats. Mix with a little French dressing and spread between lightly buttered slices of white bread, with a crisp leaf of lettuce."
Several other recipes fell my way like twos and threes off the Earl of Sandwich Bicycle card deck. Among them:
Syrian Mutton Sandwich
Syrian Mutton Sandwich No.2
Syrian Mutton and Pea Sandwich
American Farmer pork roast and apple sauce sandwich
And for Cedric's wealthy Lake Minnetonka friends: Pate de fois gras sandwiches No.1, 2 and 3. And for Lake Minnetonka wannabes? IMITATION PATE DE FOIS GRAS SANDWICH: "Use common chicken livers."
Finally, I arrived at page 41. Down at the bottom was the recipe for Peanut and Banana Sandwich. Was my hero Cedric Adams the author of this monstrosity? The sandwich that almost caused my parents' divorce? "Between thin slices of lightly buttered white bread place a crisp lettuce leaf that has been dipped in mayonnaise dressing; on this place slices of banana and sprinkle with ground peanuts."
Ah, I remember it as if it were yesterday. My father came home from work at the Gillette rubber plant after a tough day in the blistering heat of the bagging department, at a new job he wasn't particularly wild about.
"What in the hell kind of sandwich did you pack me?" He queried my mother.
"It's a peanut butter and banana sandwich. It's very stylish and good for the war effort."
It was the last peanut butter and banana sandwich we ever saw in our house. And the last one I'd ever believe Cedric Adams actually ate himself.
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