The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches: Recipes, History and Trivia for Everything Between Sliced Bread by Susan Russo, photography by Matt Armendariz. Quirk Books, 2010. 9781594744389.
10,000 Snacks: A Cookbook of Canapes, Savories, Relishes, Hors D’Oeuvres, Sandwiches, and Appetizers for Before, After, and Between Meals by Cora, Rose and Bob Brown, pictures by Julian Brazelton. Halcyon House, 1937.
Gene: All right, these are from your permanent collection. Go.
Sarah: First, The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches! It’s technically a cookbook but honestly I feel like it’s more of a checklist of sandwiches, regional and national, that you should eat. Because if I travel somewhere, I want to eat the sandwich of that place.
G: Doughnut sandwich? Where’s that from?
S: There’s usually a bit of history, a little introduction about the sandwich and where it was created. Looks like that’s a national rather than regional. “It was Paula Deen who ignited a brouhaha in 2008 with her ‘Lady’s Brunch Burger,’ a bacon-and-fried-egg-topped burger on a glazed doughnut.”
G: Geez. And then she died of heart failure.
S: This is not that. This is a ham and Swiss on doughnut.
G: Tell me some highlights. I like sandwiches because they have a low barrier to entry.
S: Right. Sandwich of West Virginia? Fried Bologna. if you have a life-list, as I do, that is sandwich related…
G: I don’t see check-marks by these.
S. No, I need to… well, I’m afraid to mark it up because I’m a book fetishist. A hot brown! I’d like to eat a hot brown.
G: A hot brown??? You know what, don’t ever say that out loud again.
S: (laughs) “This open-faced Turkey Sandwich with bacon and Mornay sauce is broiled until sizzling.” This is from Kentucky.
G: It’s got turkey and bacon? I’m sold.
S: Here’s a little guide to the types of hot dogs of the nation.
G: Ice cream sandwich, did I see that go by? Lobster roll?
S: I still haven’t had a lobster roll. I want to go to the east coast and eat a lobster roll.
G: I’ve had one. I was disappointed. When you tell people that, they say “you just didn’t have it at the right place.” Well, that could be…
S: But it could also be that you didn’t like it. (laughs)
G: I like lobster, I just don’t like it in a sandwich, apparently.
S: Loose meat sandwich. Muffuletta. I’ve had a muffuletta.
G: What’s a Muffuletta?
S: Italian cured meats, cheese, and pickled spicy vegetables on Italian bread. Really good. It gives you tips on where to get one. Go to the Central Grocery in New Orleans.
G: What’s the next book?
S: This is a book from a long time ago, it’s called 10,000 Snacks.
G: A long time ago? How long ago?
S: Checking the copyright… 1937. They attack this subject very seriously. If you want a snack, the absolute best and best variety of snacks… They’re not saying “well, first, you can have a banana, second you can have a banana with peanut butter…” No! Brazil nut coffee cake! There’s a recipe in here for rose-scented butter that you make with fresh rose petals.
G: (flipping pages) There are no pictures…
S: It was 1937, dude.
G: Yeah, but they had pictures back then, it was the era of the magazine!
S: They have some illustrations.
G: Oh, nice spot illustrations!
S: If you’re hungry, it’s divided by category. If you see a copy in a used bookstore, grab it, because when you’re in need of the exact right snack…
G: “A crumb of Danzig cheese and a sip of eau de vie, Danziger goldwasser, a carnivalesque liqueur fluttered with a confetti of real gold leaf, also bottled with sterling silver leaf, made to match gold and silver fillings.”
S: They add little jokes in here. (laughs)
G: (mock incredulous) What???
S: They’re joking that you get the drink to match your teeth.
In addition to the recipes and tips, they have snack censuses where they ask people in different groups what their snacks are and this is where you get some really good tips.
G: From 1937?
S: In Columbia University.
G: Welsh rarebit? What’s that?
S: Oh! Piece of toast, hot cheese sauce poured on top, optional slice of tomato or slice of bacon.
G: Wow! There was once a comic called Dream of the Rarebit Fiend.
S: Because cheese is rumored to give you crazy dreams?
G: What’s Crax and milk?
S: I think it’s a brand of crackers. So this is definitely a book you can pick up at any time, flip open a page, and get something funny or delicious looking. I’ve had it for years, I love it.
G: All the copies available online are going to be sold.
G: When you have old books like this, do you ever check how much a copy costs?
S: So one time I did that, because I’ve got this massive collection of cookbooks, and it turns out that the condition that all of them are in means no one will buy them. This one doesn’t have a dust jacket, so no one will buy it. It’s a book club edition, so no one will buy it.
G: So that’s good, it’s a reading copy.
S: Yeah, so my collection is entirely for content. It is worth nothing.
G: Do you ever feel like you should digitize that in some way?
S: I’ve thought about it. Most of them are still in copyright, though…
G: I’m not saying to circulate, just for you.
S: Oh, for me? Oh, no.
G: There’s a service now, you send them your book. They destroy it in the process, but they scan it and make you a digital copy. It’s good and bad.
S: I wouldn’t do that because I like to have an entire bookshelf full of books. And I like the way they smell.
G: (sniffing the snack book) Yeah, that does stink.
S: Yeah, they’re nice and stinky. They’ve been in someone’s house for a really long time.
G: Did you ever see the Vincent Price cookbook? Do you have a copy of that?
S: I don’t. If I ever see one at Goodwill, I’m buying it.
G: It’s very pricey.
S: Well, yeah.
So I’ve been listening to this Japanese cover of “Thriller,” so I was looking up information on the song and I was all, “Oh, that was Vincent Price?”
G: You didn’t know that was him?
G: (starts reciting the Vincent Price part of Thriller) That’s all I remember. Who else could it have been?
G: I grew up watching black and white monster movies on weekends on channel 11, KSTW, in Seattle, and I remember him from The Fly and House of Wax, movies like that.