- Camilla Grudova – The Doll’s Alphabet
- Victor Lavalle – The Changeling
- Sarah Gailey – River of Teeth
- John Hodgman – Vacationland
- Ed Piskor – X-Men: Grand Design
- Songs from Northern Britain
- Grand Prix
- Wilco – Being There
- Songs: Ohia – Love & Work: The Lioness Sessions
- The Kinks – Village Green Preservation Society
- Ornette Coleman – The Atlantic Years (I’m lumping these all together because they’re all in one box set, but it’s several albums)
- REM – Complete BBC Sessions
(With the following note: I didn’t know what to do with John Coltrane’s Both Directions at Once, which was pointedly not released at the time, but was recorded forever ago, and so I guess counts as an archival release? So consider it noted, and go get a copy, it’s great.)
- Planning for Burial – Quietly
- Satwa – Satwa
- Belong – October Language
- Bruxa Maria – Human Condition
- Sun Ra – Discipline 27-II
- The Sadies (Beachland Ballroom)
- Courtney Barnett (Newport Music Hall)
- Herzog (Beachland Ballroom)
- Hinds (Grog Shop)
- US Girls (Beachland Ballroom)
(I may have never done this for breweries, instead choosing to do this for individual beers. Did you know that 8 tiny lists is a lot of tiny lists?)
- Boss Dog
- Noble Beast
- The Butcher and the Brewer
(new words only, none of these are new sub-entries or new senses of existing words. Obviously entry into the OED does not mean the word is newly-coined, just that it is newly-recognized)
- Corvid (because…what the fuck? How was corvid just now added to the OED?)
- The 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards (displaced by the Olympics)
- The Comeback Trail: Calexico (I don’t like Calexico, and I don’t like them in a way that is unproductive and uninteresting)
- The 2018 CMA Awards (there are too many awards shows in November, and the People’s Choice Awards were All New and All Different)
- Reasons to Look Forward (these never actually go that well, and there just wasn’t room for them)
- Bill Maher’s dumb stuff about Stan Lee, and the somehow-continued existence of old-guard beliefs about comic books (this one was a late entrant, and I just didn’t get to it in time)
Vince Staples – FM! (Vince Staples needed barely any time at all to say a whole lot about the images/roles of black people in pop culture, and his batting is approaching all-time figures)
Peter Brotzmann & Heather Leigh – Sparrow Nights (Their second collaborative record is more fully-realized, and has some truly amazing playing from Leigh)
Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore – Ghost Forests (Mary Lattimore remains a surprisingly excellent collaborator, Meg Baird a wonderful guitarist, and this record is really gorgeous)
Hypnodrone Ensemble – Plays Orchestral Favorites (What can I say, I guess November of 2018 was the month for experimental team-ups.)
Anderson.Paak – Oxnard (While it’s true that it fails to scale the dizzying heights of Malibu, it’s also true that almost nothing does, and it’s a very good record on its own merits)
Sometime in the mid-eighteenth century, John Montagu wanted to gamble and/or do work 1, and he asked for a lump of meat to be shoved between two slices of bread, and then he ate it, and, in so doing, created the sort of portable instameal that the world over has been happy in which to indulge ever since.
By 1909, in fact, the sandwich was two things: impossibly variegated and stodgy and old-fashioned. Thus, Eva Greene Fuller came along, to rescue the sullied reputation thereof and to convince America that the sandwich was a foodstuff more than worthy of their time and attention (I may be extrapolating as to the author’s goals here). To do so, she assembled the Up-to-Date Sandwich Book: 400 Ways to Make a Sandwich. The book is, as most old cookbooks are, a very interesting window into the way food was addressed in the past.
1909 is before the supermarket, before most refrigeration, several decades before the interstate system made it possible to haul food across the country in any kind of timely fashion (although not before the train, which did some of this also), before automobiles, and before the widespread availability of electricity. It was before, in short, anything that made the process of sandwiching anything like it is now. As a result, many things were just bang out of the question.
The whole book is downright fascinating, a look at the many functions of sandwiches – some are portable meals (then as now), some are cocktail hors d’ouevres, some appear to be cake-replacement-style desserts. The book itself is divided into seven sections – Fish, Meat, Cheese, Nut, Sweet, Miscellaneous and Canapes 2 – and seems, to me at least, to be alarmingly comprehensive.
The upshot of all this for our purposes this week 3 is that this book was also written before travel was anything like commonplace. Even if you lived in the middle of the country, you were largely unable to have seen either end of it, let alone another country entirely. Travel was time-consuming, expensive, and simply out of the question for just about everybody 4. That does not stop the book from containing several attempts at “worldly” (or, y’know “elsewhere-in-the-country-ly”) sandwiches, and they are….weird.
What follows, then, is an examination of the various place-derived sandwiches, and a guess at what the hell the people that made them 5 were thinking, first by trying to decipher what the name means, and then trying to decipher how it does as a representation of that thing.
The “salted cracker” has not actually changed in the intervening century-plus, so this really is a fish sandwich on a cracker.
WHY IS IT CALLED THAT: I guess….there’s some kind of dutch association with sardines – they’re still out there, in fact, although the more-commonly found Dutch canned fish is herring. I’m not sure where the Bermuda onion comes in there, nor the lemons, as neither is found in The Netherlands 6. I suppose the “lunch” designation is also there to point out that this one is a meal, not a snack or an appetizer. It does not make me think of Holland, that’s for sure. If you placed this sandwich in front of me and asked me to name a country, I would probably come up with, well, Chicago. Which is not a country. So.
There’s all sorts of stuff like this about the bread, and it’s very common in old cookbooks – cut them “rather” thick. A hundred years before this, cookbook instructions would go one step further and say things like “mix with enough olive oil” or “add a quantity of flour” or other such subjective measures. I love it, and I miss it.
WHY IS IT CALLED THAT: I’d imagine if you used Spanish olives 7 there’d basically be no argument. Seems reasonably Spanish to me. Actually, puttanesca aside, olives + sardines seems a reasonable stab at “Spanish”, so I’m pretty willing to go along here. There are even lemons in Spain, so it doesn’t have that weird “what the hell” quality to the inclusion of the lemon like the Dutch Lunch Sandwich.
Cottage cheese used to come in balls! And it was common enough that it was just…in the recipe there like that! I suppose that makes sense. I would have guessed “can” rather than “ball”, but I also wouldn’t have thought much about the state of cottage cheese in 1909. Also, here’s some of that vinegar I mentioned earlier.
WHY IS IT CALLED THAT: I’m not sure what says “Austrian” to people about a sardine and cottage cheese sandwich with a bunch of herbs in it. Oh, also grated lemon rind. There are no lemons in Austria. Enough with the damn lemons already. I sort of dig the adorable self-vinaigretting process that comes with the lemon juice and the vinegar and the oil all mixing together with the…uh….cottage cheese. Am I answering the question? No I am not. I have no idea what is Austrian about this. This is not only a sandwich that isn’t Austrian, it’s a sandwich that sounds gross. Even going a step into the past and imagining that the cottage cheese is something more like ricotta 8, it’s still a weird, highly-acidic, fish-and-cheese sandwich spread on uh…rye bread. I don’t know, man. I don’t think they did well.
Obviously, this and the three preceding are from the “fish” chapter.
WHY IT’S CALLED THAT: Well, it looks sort of like a head-wound version of a Nicoise salad on bread – the cold fish, the eggs, the capers, the cress. It drops the ball a little at “any cold meat may be used instead of the fish,” although I would agree that the sandwich wouldn’t suffer from not being made with leftover fish. I would think after the acid-storm of the Austrian sandwich that she might be willing to throw, like, a lemon or something at this, but maybe that’s just not the French way. It’s easy enough to decipher as French. It’s even a reasonable-enough sandwich!
WHY IT’S CALLED THAT: I can’t imagine what’s going on here other than that a dude from Montpelier made this sandwich and whoever acquired this recipe was then like “oh dip this is how they sandwich in Montpelier”. While it’s true that sometimes there are regional recipes that have nothing to do with a materialist or functionalist look at the area from which they pop up 9, this one has me scratching my head.
WHY IT’S CALLED THAT: I genuinely have no idea. This is remarkably similar to the Montpelier sandwich, except that it’s got mayonnaise in it, sardines are the small oily fish instead of anchovies, and black pepper instead of cayenne pepper. But the spirit of the thing is similar enough to make me wonder why it is credited with originating ont he other side of the planet. Oh, and it’s garnished with an olive, which somehow makes it less Japanese. There are eggs in Japan, I’ll say that.
This is a BLT without the B, then? An LT?
WHY IT’S CALLED THAT: Because Maine doesn’t have access to pigs? I mean, pork is an essential ingredient in a traditional (i.e. circa 1909) clam chowder, so there’s bacon there, right? Or at least salt pork? It also looks like a lobster roll on different bread 10. Is it a joke? Are all Bar Harborians poor and can’t afford bacon or lobster? In 1909 lobster was still peasant food, so maybe this is an opportunity to get the lobster thing off the plate and just be left with a tomato sandwich? Later on in the book there is a “tomato sandwich” where the tomato involved is actually just ketchup, so this is a double cruelty visited upon the early-twentieth-century sandwich-eating public. Although I will say: a tomato and lettuce sandwich mayonnaise on toast is pretty good. Just not “Bar Harbor,” you know?
Look, I know that “St. Patrick” isn’t a place, but there is pointedly not an “Irish” sandwich in there and it feels like there should be, so I’m assuming this is the stand-in. NB that 1909 is about the end of the period of time when the Irish were a widely-discriminated-against group in the US. so maybe we’ve just got some weird old hateful viewpoints going on here.
WHY IT’S CALLED THAT: I’m going to imagine because it’s green (mint/parsley), orange (paprika, at least after it’s in the mix) and white (onion). Which is the, y’know, Irish flag. Or the St. Patrick’s flag, if you must. Of all of these, this one’s name is the among the most scrutable.
The best thing about this recipe coming in 2018 is that it contains no chicken, which means the brain-dead rumormeme about “club” being an acronym for “chicken and lettuce under bacon” is even more thoroughly debunked here. This is a 109 year old recipe! So there!
WHY IT’S CALLED THAT: Brown bread comes from Boston. Can’t make it any more simple than that. I’m not sure where the mutton comes in – are there a bunch of sheep in Massachusetts I don’t know about? – but it definitely very much has brown bread. The fussy “cut it into circles with a cake cutter” bit also means that she’s not recommending the use of canned brown bread, which existed in 1909, as did the more-common and probably-less-gross method of cooking the loaf in an empty can.
In 2018, “Italian Sandwich” pretty easily conveys “cured meats in a pile, generally on a hoagie bun or whatever”. This is a very different take on that idea.
WHY IT’S CALLED THAT: I would imagine the thing that makes it Italian is the fact that it’s pressed in the style of a panini. Olives are the general-purpose “Mediterranean” ingredient (cf. the French and Spanish sandwiches above). It contains butter, cream cheese and mayonnaise dressing 11, which seems to me a not-terribly Italian thing to combine on a lettuce and olive sandwich, and neither of the two breads is a particularly Italianate bread (in fact, your guess is as good as mine what the graham bread is doing there), so we’re pretty much just left with the method. Also this is one seriously squishy sandwich. Oh, and how “crisp” do you suppose that lettuce leaf is after you mush it into the butter/cream cheese/mayonnaise mixture? I bet not very!
Please note that this one is the “cheese” sandwich, not the “sweet” sandwich, despite, y’know, the ingredients.
WHY IS IT CALLED THAT: I’m not even going to get into the use of the term “oriental” here, I’ll just call it a wash due to the date of publication on the book, and assume that we have all of East Asia to play with here. I’ll be as generous as I can be and say that China does have maple trees. Whether they produce the same kind of sap as sugar maples, and whether there’s a set of people there to exploit that sap into sugar production is pretty dubious. There are also cherry trees in Southeast Asia, quite famously. I doubt they have maraschino liqueur there to preserve what fruit those cherry trees produce, but I guess you do what you can in 1909. I’m going to assume that the cherries are what makes it “Oriental.” We’re still a few decades out from the invention of crab rangoon – the “Oriental” dish that most famously makes use of cream cheese – but maybe Trader Vic was picking up on something that already existed culturally when he started on it, so maybe the cream cheese has something to do with it also.
This is the “sweet” sandwich. You can tell because it doesn’t have cream cheese in it, I guess.
WHY IT’S CALLED THAT: Given that it’s the ingredient they both have in common, I’m going to continue to guess that “cherries” read “oriental” at the time. “Sweet thick cream” is almost certainly whipped cream (that’s what it usually is in recipes from the time period), so this is a whipped cream, banana, honey and maraschino sandwich. On buttered bread. Just like they it in the….ugh….”orient.” Yep.
I almost had to make this sandwich just to get some kind of idea of what was going on with the proportions here. 1 part whipped cream to 2 parts ginger and 2 parts candied orange peel seems like a weird, chewy candy sandwich. In Ms. Fuller’s defense, it is in the “Sweet” chapter, but holy crow that’s a lot of weird, chewy candy for one sandwich.
WHY IT’S CALLED THAT: Oh, ginger and orange peel still read pretty “Indian” to this day. After the contortionary head-scratching necessary to decode “oriental,” this is a fat slow pitch straight down the middle.
I wonder if large crackers used to be more available? Is it something like salted matzoh? Because I’m thinking of something like matzoh.
WHY IS IT CALLED THAT: Well, it’s a bean torta if you aren’t super-familiar with what a tortilla is or how Mexican bean recipes function. As an avowed lover of both crackers and baked beans, I think it’s probably a worthy thing to eat, especially if you leave out the catsup/butter business 12, and I can see how, if someone only ever described Mexican food to you, you might land on it as a reasonable approximation. This is the only sandwich recipe with a place-name to be in the “miscellaneous” section of the book, so it seems obvious that even Fuller had no idea what to do with this thing. Shame, really.
And there you have, a brief survey of what the cuisine of other places looked like when made into a sandwich in 1909. Tune in sometime in the nonspecific future, when I look at some more of these weird-ass sandwiches.
- popular legend has it the former, one of his biographers, who admittedly would know what he’s talking about I guess, insists the latter. Although the dude gambled a hell of a lot so maybe it’s a little of both, who am I to say? ↩
- canapes being a kind of cheat, as these aren’t really all “sandwiches” as currently recognized, but either the category was looser 109 years ago, or Ms. Fuller decided it was close enough since it’s still “stuff on bread”. ↩
- and I’ll be returning to this well – some of the recipes are completely deranged-seeming from the vantage point of “available ingredients” and “food borne out of want rather than need” where I sit right now. ↩
- it would thus be instructive to know where Eva Greene Fuller was from, but this is a decidedly pre-modern book, and thus has no author bio, and biographical information about this woman who lived over a century ago and wrote one recipe book is basically nonexistent. If I had to guess I’d guess she’s from Chicago, as that’s where her publisher, A.C. Mclurg & Co., is based out of, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that she was originally from Western Kentucky or Eastern Missouri, either, given what she uses as “common” ingredients. Of course for all I actually know she could be from Tempe, or Hudson. Or the goddamned moon. ↩
- I’m assuming that Fuller was a Grimm-style gatherer, rather than a recipe developer in her own right: that is to say, I feel like most of these things are just a “definitive” version of a sandwich that was developed elsewhere regionally and found its way to the author, who decided her version using the ingredients available to her, which is how I guessed at where she might have been from. ↩
- an interesting aside here is that there is some use of vinegar in the book, but not much. This would seem to be a shoo-in, and if I were to make this sandwich myself – and I might! It’s a sardine and onion sandwich on crackers! – I would use vinegar. Additionally, I’m being a little hard on the Bermuda onion here, as there are almost certainly sweet onions in The Netherlands of some description. ↩
I am unfamiliar with how many varieties of olives the dry-goods store would have in cans and/or brine barrels available to people in 1909.
- it certainly wouldn’t be the highly-stabilized whatever-the-hell thing it is we buy in the grocery store now. Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I love that stuff and eat it all the time. ↩
- cf “Barberton Chicken” ↩
- I mean, the “roll” of a lobster roll is tremendously important, so I could be drawing an equivalency where none is called for here. ↩
- “mayonnaise dressing” is a frightfully common component of these sandwiches. I’m presuming that it’s different from mayonnaise proper, as just plain mayonnaise also appears in several sandwiches. I’m not sure what it is, though. ↩
- although even that is a kind of sweet riff on buffalo sauce, which wouldn’t pop up for nearly half a century after this recipe was published. ↩