I was thinking about peanut butter and pickle sandwiches the other day. And then about olive sandwiches. And then…well, then all the sandwiches we used to eat (my family, that is) when I was a kid with four siblings. Our sandwiches were made mostly on homemade white bread, because my mom baked it almost daily.
I thought I’d write a list:
1. Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.
As an adult, I have often thought of how odd this combination is. My sister-in-law is the only other person outside my immediate family who has ever mentioned having them. Personally, I preferred the sweet pickle, or bread-and-butter pickles my grandma made, on my peanut butter. Dills are good too, but sweet just seem to go better.
2. Bread and butter sandwiches, with filling:
These are pretty simple. Bread. Butter. Sliced radishes; onions; thinly sliced deli ham; cheddar cheese. Salt and pepper. Sometimes I’ll have cheddar cheese on my onion or ham sandwich, but mostly these were eaten as individual fillings. I discovered that onions are much better on crusty French bread.
Tomato, cucumber, shredded carrots were amongst my favorites with mayo, salt and pepper. Sometimes I’d make a combination sandwich, sometimes just individual ingredients. Cheddar cheese goes well on tomato sandwiches. I prefer a whole grain bread now.
A combination of tomato, cucumber, and onions mixed with a light spread of mayo on crusty chewy bread, and a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar and olive oil sprinkled over is really good! Add some prime salami. And a beer. Yes!
4. Hot roast beef sandwiches.
I grew up in an era where Sunday dinner was standard. Mom would make a big dinner and we’d eat about 2 pm. Spaghetti with marinara, or fried chicken, or —my favorite—, roast beef were the menu rotation. The roast was always deeply roasted, tender and juicy.
Mom would cook this wonderful roast with carrots, parsnips, onions and potatoes. The vegetables were soft but still in one piece —she would cut them lengthwise — and caramelized from being in the oven so long with the roast. She added them about an hour in, and they turned out perfect! The aroma of this deeply satisfying meal filled the house.
Then came the leftovers: hot roast beef sandwiches, cold roast beef sandwiches (these were rare for us kids, Dad usually got them in his lunch), and roast beef hash. While I loved the hash, the hot roast beef sandwiches were my favorite. All that hot flavorful gravy soaking into the thick white bread with the delectable roast beef in between.
Hot turkey or chicken sandwiches are good too, if the gravy is good. It’s all in the caliber of gravy.
5. Tuna sandwiches.
Mayonnaise, tuna and some salt and pepper. Lettuce leaves. Maybe cucumber (This may have been something I added years later.) Always served with potato chips —which we children would put inside the sandwich — and pickle slices (ditto).
One of my aunts would mix the tuna with mayo and sweet pickle relish. It was different to us. Not to mention that she’d butter the bread, then spread a little mayo on, then tuna. Just wasn’t my cup of tea, but when in Rome, or at my aunt’s house…
That aunt buttered the bread on every sandwich, come to think of it. Even peanut butter and jelly.
(Aside: My mom always bought Bumble Bee tuna and I couldn’t then nor can I now reconcile the name with the product. Where did the label Bumble Bee come from? Some other label names from the company mostly make sense for seafood: Snow’s, Brunswick, Beach Cliff, Wild Selections, to name a few.)
6. Peanut butter and jelly. Or jam as the case may be.
There always seemed to be grape jelly in our house. Mom made freezer strawberry jam and freezer peach preserve once a year. I suppose at times we used strawberry jam (which I didn’t like) on our PB&Js. Peach preserve seems more compatible with warm toast or scones.
My memory was mostly of grape jelly and Skippy creamy peanut butter on white bread for sandwiches.
It’s the ratio of peanut butter to jelly or jam that makes the sandwich better. It should be slightly less. In my humble opinion. It should be raspberry jam as well.
7. Olive sandwiches.
Chopped canned black olives mixed with mayonnaise. Spread between two slices of white bread. Or any bread. No additional seasoning needed.
My mom made these for my dad’s lunch. We kids would vie for the lunch leftovers out of his big black lunchbox when he got home. I can’t believe we ate that often warm stuff from his lunch box smelling of dill pickles after it had been sitting in a truck all day. Gak!
8. Egg salad sandwiches.
My Mom made these in the “classic” way: mayo, mustard, hard-boiled eggs all smashed and mixed together. My grandma, and possibly the aforementioned aunt (mother and daughter so no surprise there) added sweet pickle relish to the mix.
Tasty on wheat or rye. A leaf of iceberg lettuce is a must.
9. Brown sugar sandwiches.
What can I say? This came from my husband. He grew up with these: brown sugar sandwiched between two pieces of bread. Hard to fathom.
10. Peanut butter and sugar or honey. Simple. Exactly.
11. Cottage cheese sandwiches.
This is a shared sandwich. I have never had one.
My sisters and I used to pick blueberries during the summer. One of the high school girls who worked with us would make lunch daily for the owners at their house which was on site. Every Tuesday, Cottage Cheese Sandwiches was on the menu. If I recall, that’s all that was on the bread.
They needed some Tim’s Sea Salt and Vinegar chips to go with, but alas! it was before Tim’s time.
My sister loved liverwurst. Which is liver sausage or pâté. No idea what else she had on the sandwich. Maybe mustard?
My mother’s family is German all the way back to Europe from where they voyaged to this still sort of new world in the mid-1800s. So I suppose along with sauerkraut, pickles, pork and the polka, liverwurst was a staple.
Doing a light research, I’ve found mustard is indeed one of the things one eats on a liverwurst sandwich, along with cornichons, cream cheese, chives, and pickles.
13. Cooked Oregon baby shrimp in pita.
Not technically of my childhood. I had this sandwich years ago in a tiny family-owned restaurant.
The baby shrimp was mixed with mayonnaise and chopped celery, possibly green onions as well. Then it was stuffed into a pita pocket that was lined with a thick spread of cream cheese. On top was a generous helping of shredded Cheddar cheese.
It was amazing. I replicate the sandwich occasionally when the mood strikes, omitting the green onion. I made it once without the Cheddar cheese. Not the same sandwich. The cheddar makes it! This is a cold sandwich, not heated.
Thanks for reading. Hope to hear of some other differently standard sandwiches readers can share. I’m going to go have an Oreo cookie. Now there’s a good sandwich!
Addendum: A comment from Dining with Donald brought to memory a couple of other sandwiches we ate that maybe weren’t run-of-the-mill:
Cold bean sandwiches. These were made from canned leftover pork and beans we had for dinner the night before. No waste in our house! Eaten on bread and butter, with ketchup.
Cold salmon sandwiches: Rare, mainly when my Dad went fishing and caught salmon. Leftovers in bread spread thickly with mayo. Salt and pepper. I didn’t like these much because I don’t like salmon much.
Meatloaf sandwiches: Leftovers as well, with mayonnaise or butter on bread, and ketchup. We kids were in control of the ketchup if we wanted it; it wasn’t spread on the bread. I also liked mustard on my meatloaf sandwiches. Still do, one of my favorites!
Deviled ham: Underwood Deviled Ham . Canned stuff. Eaten with mayo on bread. I liked the can logo.