The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.53
SUMMER2017

Three roast beef sandwiches, one of them by any other (appropriate) name.

In 1001 Sandwiches, first published during 1936 in Boston, Florence A. Cowles calls this first iteration her “England Sandwich.” She knows of what she speaks, or writes, for although--ironically enough--it does not appear anywhere in the Editor’s collection of British books on sandwiches, this one very nearly embodies in one recipe the English culinary ethos.Sandwich_cartoon_18th_c003.jpg


There is no point in paraphrasing the eloquent instructions.

“Spread two slices of bread with butter into which curry powder has been worked. Sprinkle finely minced water cress [sic] on one side and lay a thin slice of cold, rare roast beef on the other side. Dust the slices with pepper and salt and brush them over with a little made mustard. Press together and trim off the crusts, then cut sandwiches in triangles.” (1001 Sandwiches 20)


Notes:

- ‘Made mustard’ refers to prepared as opposed to powdered mustard. You will want something English and fiery like Colman’s.

- Mrs. Cowles outlines another rare roast beef sandwich that is more typical of British sandwich recipes from the interwar years. They are always pounding, mincing and mixing the fillings’ components to a paste, just like this. Once again straight from the source:

“Mince very rare cold roast beef and add pepper, salt, a saltspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of made mustard, a teaspoon of onion juice, a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and a tablespoon of very finely minced celery leaves. Mix into a smooth paste and spread on thinly buttered slices of bread. Out of the top slices cut a little piece with a fancy cutter and insert half a stuffed olive.” (1001 Sandwiches 20)

- Mince, even obliterate, the beef and celery with a food processor.

- You need not juice an onion; the stuff is widely available in little bottles.

- The Editor considers the decorative olive a frippery, and anyway never has encountered a Fancy Cutter.

- Readers may wonder why, if all of this is so British despite the Bostonian lineage, we have no horseradish for our beef, but we do; it is just that patience was required. Mrs. Cowles’ “Roast Beef Sandwich II” in fact would be better described as a freshly potted beef and horseradish sandwich. Once again a food processor comes in handy.

- By now the reader knows that quotation is in the offing:

“Chop very fine enough roast beef to make a cupful. Add to it pepper, salt, a little chopped onion and enough fresh horse-radish to soften the mass. Spread between generous slices of white or whole-wheat bread.” (1001 Sandwiches 18)