Wednesday, December 27, 2017

I'm no hero

I don't want to waste any time getting around to writing about a terrific holiday gift from one of my dear friends.

I think the book would approve of my speedy recognition, as it's McCall's No Time to Cook: Meals in Minutes (ed. Elaine Prescott Wonsavage, 1985). 

When I jumped like a wooden rabbit hopping over be-mushroomed broccoli and "Puffy Broiled Fish" to check out my new book, I found a lot of things to love... the "attractive party fair" of foot-long open face sandwiches engineered to be nearly impossible to cut up and serve without someone getting mayonnaise on their tie, a pimiento-cheese smeared cucumber on their shoe, or an anchovy fillet down their d├ęcolletage. I'd list the recipes, but if you can see the pictures, you pretty much know the recipes. Just put a base layer of butter and mayo down before your ham with pears, pineapple, and cherries or bologna rolls with green pepper strips. 

The book has a nice children's take on the '60s lady's luncheon staple of sandwich loaves:

It's a "Zebra" Peanut Sandwich Loaf. (I guess the scare quotes are to reassure us that it's not made with real zebras.)

I've never seen a zebra with peanut-colored stripes, but I'll bet this peanut butter and cream cheese filled iteration of the sandwich loaf will be more attractive to kids than the ones calling for deviled ham or cottage cheese mixed with pineapple and garlic powder. (You'd always have one picky kid like me bitching about the raisins and another totally unreasonable kid bellyaching about the nuts on top, but that's what you sign up for when you try to feed kids anything.)

My very favorite sandwiches might be in the hero section, though, as the writers seemed to have no idea of what a herosandwich is. I always thought they were Italian-inflected and served in a long roll split down the middle. You know, not quite like this:

Just pile a bunch of meatballs on top of a loaf of bread so they're bound to fall off! The meatballs might seem somewhat traditional, but these are a little fancier than you may be expecting:

This is the meatball version of Beef Bourguignon! All the little steps it takes to get to the final step of mounding the meatballs all over the bread would take at least an hour, so I'm not sure how this fits the "no time to cook" theme either. Maybe the note that the meatballs may be frozen is supposed to mean it will be speedy in the future? In any case, the mountain o' beef bourguignon "hero" is the closest we'll get to a traditional hero. 

The next hero is an ever-vigilant crime fighter, keeping watch with its three bloodshot eyes:

Or maybe it's just waiting for a chance to eat me? Am I the only one who sees an alien with three eyes, a gill/ nose hybrid, and a mouthful of lunch meat and cheese teeth eyeing me up? It might look vaguely hero-ic, what with the cold cuts, but this is a sandwich that's not traditionally given the hero treatment.

This behemoth is the Reuben Hero. I'm not a Reuben lover, scholar, or admirer-from-a-safe-distance, but even I know Reubens are supposed to have corned beef and sauerkraut. With the turkey and cole slaw, this is closer to a Rachel I think....

This is still not the furthest the book strays from the idea of a hero, though. That would be this little number:

Granted, the Mexican inflection makes this the one I'd be most interested in, but in no universe is chili and tortillas baked in layers a hero! I can countenance calling any of the other items so far at least a sandwich, but this leaves me no alternative but to call shenanigans!


  1. Is anyone else disturbed by the fact that the meatballs are almost the exact same color as the bread? At first I thought that the bread had some interesting dough ball growths on top of it, before it was revealed to be afflicted by meatballs.

    1. "Afflicted by Meatballs" would be a pretty good band name.

  2. See here's the problem w/ wanting to make a sandwich loaf in this century. Finding a whole loaf of uncut white bread! Believe me, my family & I have been trying to logistically recreate this masterpiece for years and we can't make it work

    1. If you have a nearby bakery or grocery store with a bakery, try seeing if you can request a loaf of uncut bread. I used to work in a deli/bakery section of a small grocery, and we'd sometimes have requests to save a loaf from the cutter after we baked it. You'll have to plan ahead, as there probably won't be a loaf ready and waiting, but I'll bet you can get one if you ask.