Saturday, October 17, 2015

Telephone sandwiches and the waffle of Monte Cristo

Now that we're burrowed deeply into the dead-leafy heart of fall like some foliage-decomposing worms, I'm celebrating the weekend with some toasty hot sandwich recipes from "Good Housekeeping's Book of Breads and Sandwiches" (from the 1958 collection Good Housekeeping's Cook Books).

I picked this one because I loved the title: Italian Telephones! So what should you expect in one of these? Marinated pigs' ears? Cow tongue? (A tongue phone before it could be a Nightmare on Elm Street reference! That would be exciting.)

No, though. The telephone theme is not from the ingredients themselves, but because of "their resemblance to Italian telephone receivers." Apparently Italian telephones looked like French bread slices stacked with melty cheese and anchovy fillets. (I was trying to think of a food product that would resemble a phone now, and the closest I could come was a Hershey bar still in the foil.... Maybe I'll start calling those "American telephones" and see how long it takes for people to start avoiding me.) (That's a joke because the smart ones already do...)

One thing I love about this recipe is that it tells what to substitute for mozzarella cheese if it's not available. Try imagining a time when it was easier to find Munster than mozzarella! Pizza was not a staple back then.

Here's another recipe that seems pretty dated:
What makes "Texas Frankwiches" Texan, exactly? They're kidney beans, chopped-up hot dogs, various relishes, sauerkraut, and cheese on hot dog buns.

Given Texans' love of meat and hatred of beans in their chili, it seems unlikely they'd be too excited about a recipe that spreads a half cup of hot dogs (not even beef!) amongst six sandwiches and fills it out with kidney beans. Plus sauerkraut? That seems more like a Pennsylvania or Indiana ingredient than a Texas one. Serving the mess on little hot dog buns also doesn't square with the bigger-is-better Texas mentality in things like Texas toast, so I really can't see this being passed off as a "Texas" sandwich today.

I did find one hot sandwich fitting a trend that is still with us: breakfast for dinner!

Of course, I'm not convinced I'd want Wafflewiches for breakfast, dinner, or anything in between. They're frozen waffles stuffed with ground ham and mustard, then dipped in an egg batter and fried like a Monte Cristo.

Fried frozen waffles? I think I'll pass...

Happy October weekend! Spend it with a toasty sandwich (just maybe not one from this book).


  1. Happy October! As a woman of Italian-American heritage, I will never ever understand the appeal of the anchovy. Ciao, bella!

    1. People who love anchovies really seem devoted, but I'm not among their numbers either!