The Food Almanac: Monday, November 4th, 2013

Staff Writer
It's Club Sandwich Day!
Wikimedia Commons/ Jessica

The Club Sandwich has been popular for at least a hundred years, appearing in a Good Housekeeping cookbook in 1903.

Today's Flavor
This is purportedly National Candy Day. The PMCA, a national association of candy manufacturers, knows nothing about this, so. . . let's also note that this is Good Nutrition Month. The opposing forces battle it out on this day. Feel the strife!

On a more practical note, this is Club Sandwich Day. As most people know it, a club sandwich is a double-decker sandwich (three slices of toasted bread), interleaved with sliced turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise. It's been popular for at least a hundred years, appearing in a Good Housekeeping cookbook in 1903. For something so simple, the club sandwich has generated a controversy. Was it was originally a double-decker? James Beard and that Good Housekeeping cookbook say no. Beard also insists that the original was made with chicken, not turkey, and that there's enough of a flavor difference there for that to be important. Early recipes also say that the bread should be buttered.

The most often-cited origin story is that the club sandwich was invented at a casino resort in Saratoga, New York. If so, then it should always be accompanied by potato chips, which certainly were created in Saratoga.

In recent years, many sandwich makers have enhanced the classic recipe or changed it entirely. Martin Wine Cellar's "executive club" sandwich adds grilled ham to the standard ingredients. We've also seen clubs made with many other meats and even such things as soft-shell crabs. One element that never changes: a club sandwich, no matter how creative, always includes bacon. It's a good sandwich, anyway. And it comes with built-in toothpicks.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Candy Town, Ohio is a campsite in the woods about sixty-two miles southeast of Columbus, off US 33. Nothing appears on the aerial shot but a small loop on a road leading to an old dump. Somehow, this all adds up to a place where lovers could find some privacy, but I'm only guessing. Perhaps before you head to Candy Town, you might have a nice dinner at the Rhapsody Restaurant, a mile away in Nelsonville.

Edible Dictionary
candied, adj.--The word has two meanings in American cooking. In the first, the food involved is covered with a sweet syrup, enough to give the food a much sweeter flavor profile. The two most famous such candied dishes are candied yams and candied apples--both associated with the fall holidays. The other meaning involves a process by which slices of fruit are both dried and filled with sugar crystals in the same operation. This is done by soaking the fruit in a warm, saturated sugar solution. The temperature is enough to drive out the water content into the syrup, which is then replaced by the syrup. After drying, the fruit slices are both encrusted and filled with sugar crystals. The result can be eaten like candy, but its most common appearance is in things like fruitcake. Most fruits candied this way are citrus, but dates, raisins, and pineapple can also be candied this way.

Deft Dining Rule #361:
The last bite of a well-made sandwich will still include all of the main ingredients between the bread in the last bite.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
To cook a lot of bacon at one time, lay out the strips on a baking pan (the kind with at least a shallow rim) and put it in the center of a 400-degree oven until browned. You don't need to turn it.

Food Inventions
A patent was issued today in 1879 to Anthony Iske, who invented a meat-slicing machine. Just in time to make the first club sandwiches. It was entirely manual, and it looked something like a French mandolin. I'll bet this thing sliced a few fingers in its time.

The Saints
St. Charles Borromeo is celebrated on this day. Born of Italian nobility in the 1500s, he became one of the most active members of the Roman clergy. He is the patron saint of apple orchards.

Annals Of Wine
The entrance to the tomb of King Tutankhamen was discovered on this date in 1922. The searchers found many cases of the Pharoah's favorite Champagne, Tuttinger. (Booooo!)

Music To Get Sweet By
Sugar Shack, by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, hit Number One on this date in 1963. Gilmer later had a hit with a very different sound on Bottle of Wine.

Food Namesakes
On this day in 1873, Dr. John Beers patented the first gold crown for badly decayed teeth. . . Speaking of beers: today is the birthday, in 1923, of Alfred Heineken, who built up his family's brewery to world prominence. . . Dick Groat was born in 1930 on this date. I remember him. He was a shortstop for the Pirates when I was a kid. I had his baseball card. The word "groat" means a tiny morsel of grain. The words "grits" comes from the same root and, of course, means the same thing.

Words To Eat By
"[The club sandwich] is one of the great sandwiches of all time and has swept its way around the world after an American beginning. Nowadays the sandwich is bastardized because it is usually made as a three-decker, which is not authentic. Whoever started that horror should be forced to eat three-deckers three times a day the rest of his life.--James Beard. 

He must have suffered from clubsandwichophobia: the fear that you will bite down on one of those wooden spears if you're not really careful.

Words To Drink By
"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars, and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them."--Winston Churchill.

Related Links
Sandwich of the Week: John O’ Groat’s Club Sandwich Where Is the World's Most Expensive Club Sandwich?