Once again, I have gained fun and exciting knowledge from a book of fiction.
This time, the book is Jennifer Close’s Marrying the Ketchups, and the knowledge is the existence of something called sandwich loaf.
According to our friends at Wikipedia, “A sandwich loaf is a stacked savory party entrée made from a loaf of horizontally sliced bread. Typical fillings include egg salad, chicken salad, ham salad, tuna salad, and Cheez Whiz. While rare today, the food was quite popular during the mid 20th century in the United States.”
When I read Close’s description of a sandwich loaf, I couldn’t believe my eyes, especially when she explained that it was frosted with whipped cream cheese and resembled a cake. But then I found images on the Internet of various kinds of sandwich loaf, and they absolutely looked like cake, particularly when cut. It’s a sandwich cake, if you will.
My research also found that sandwich loaf was served at showers and luncheons. A character in Marrying the Ketchups considers sandwich loaf the “height of sophistication.” As most of the sandwich loaf I found were decorated to match a special occasion or holiday, she had a point. This character was part of my mom’s generation, so I asked her (my mom, not a fictional character) if she was familiar with sandwich loaf.
Mom looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.
My oldest sister said she knew what I was talking about and then mentioned pickle loaf and ham and cheese loaf. Pass the barf bag.
Anyway, I explained to my mom, my sisters, and my nieces about this fun and exciting discovery I had gained whilst reading fiction. (By the way, another character in the book regards reading fiction as a waste of time. What a dumb expletive. Readers of this-here column will know that this is the third piece of knowledge I’ve gained – and passed along – from a work of fiction in recent weeks.)
Regardless, my family did not share my enthusiasm for sandwich loaf. I sent them a link that featured 20 sandwich loaf recipes. Unlike me, I don’t think they pored over the recipes as if they would be tested on them later.
In fact, they seemed confused by my enthusiasm. That’s understandable. Except for the occasional tuna sandwich, I don’t eat cold sandwiches. Well, unless it’s an emergency. You know, like in the aftermath of an apocalyptic flood. What’s more, it would take too much space and time to explain my sandwich preferences, but let’s just say I would partake of only the bread and the cream cheese frosting if served a sandwich loaf.
But I enjoy exploring recipes, including those I will never make or eat, and looking at images of retro food. I think my sisters also worried that I would suggest we purchase a loaf or two of unsliced bread and create a sandwich loaf.
No worries there. I’m just sharing my fun and exciting discovery. However, if we were going to create a sandwich loaf, we’d chose these three meats – bologna, potted meat, and Treat.
This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.