Fulfillment of a Dream

Ever since I read the lists of “male” and “female” sandwiches in the 1942 Women’s Voluntary Services Cookbook by Marion Gregg, I have been wanting to make them and serve them at an event. My strange dream comes true today. I should probably explain, in this age of erotic cakes, that the sandwiches were designated male or female according to who was supposed to enjoy them. The gender stereotyping of taste is what we’re nibbling on here.

Here is the “male” sandwich that I chose from the list. The manly ingredients are: chopped bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard spread on rye. The platter goes so beautifully with them I think.

The garnish was a problem, as I had forgotten to buy any parsley. I was lucky enough to find a sprig of cilantro in the fridge at the research center where I am working. It’s not historically accurate and I guess you could consider it stollen, but it works visually.

The mound of extra filling in the middle was my own amazing stroke-of-genius.

And now the female sandwiches: quince paste and chopped walnuts on raisin bread.

I like the platter for these ones, too.

I am serving them at an event at which I will be talking about the construction of the gourmet in American culture, a pretty academic topic. I’ll be arguing (not to spoil anything) that the character of the Gourmet was constructed as male and established in reaction to a female food culture that was dominant in cookbooks at the time, the 1940s. So it seemed like the right time to serve these, very un-Gourmet sandwiches. One important thing I have already learned from this experience is that you can buy pre-cooked, pre-crumbled bacon. Yay! I will also be serving a cheese plate (brie, blue, cheddar) and baguette for those who can’t get their heads or mouths around eating history. And I’ll be serving two California wines to compliment this clip, which I’ll be using in my presentation. Bon Apetit!

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