Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

National Sandwich Day

Jerry Stratton, November 3, 2021

National Sandwich Day is always November 3, whatever day of the week that happens to be. But that’s fine, because every day is a good day for a sandwich.

Why November 3? Because that’s the birthday of John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, from whom popular etymology says we got the name for this wonderfully quick and tasty meal-in-one. Whether it’s a fresh sandwich, a cooked sandwich, or a combination (say, grilled cheese with tomatoes), the sandwich combines the great taste of good bread with the great taste of just about anything that can lay vaguely flat on a slice of bread.

Great bread, great fillings, great spreads. The sandwich doesn’t need anything else, although a good drink and something crunchy alongside is always a comfort.

October 26, 2022: Bread and butter pickles for National Sandwich Day
Fruitport Pickles: One gallon (sweet) pickles from the 1976 Fruitport Bicentennial Cookbook.; pickles

If there’s one ingredient that makes almost any sandwich taste better, it is pickles. Ham sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, fish sandwiches, and chicken or tuna salad sandwiches, they all benefit from several slices of good pickles. The more the tastier!

One of my favorite bars is the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago, and that’s partly because you get to assemble your own burger. Which means I get as many pickles on the burger as I can fit.

I usually prefer dill pickles, but every once in a while I get a craving for bread & butter pickles. They’re especially good with fish sandwiches, especially the salmon burgers from Trader Joe’s. No chicken melt or tuna melt is complete without pickles, and bread & butter pickles are a special treat on any chicken or tuna salad sandwich, melt or not.

National Sandwich Day is on Thursday of next week. Normally, I’d be posting my Sandwich Day recipe on the Wednesday before, but this recipe takes three days to make. I know you’re probably focused on Hallowe’en right now, but take some time out to pick up whatever ingredients you need for pickles and start them tomorrow, or over the weekend. If you like bread and butter pickles, you won’t be disappointed.

Even if you don’t like bread and butter pickles, you might try this one. These homemade bread and butter pickles outshine anything I’ve had from a store. They are very easy to make. They do not require any canning, just a half-gallon jar. All you need to do is mix everything together and put them in the refrigerator for a few days. The original recipe made them a gallon at a time. If you have a larger family, or if the only suitable jar you have is a gallon jar, double the recipe for the original full gallon.

Billy Goat Tavern burger: Handmade burger from the Original Billy Goat in Chicago.; hamburger; Chicago; The Billy Goat Tavern

Hamburger the way I make them: pickles top and bottom.

These pickles keep getting better past the three-day mark, which is probably why some recipes call for waiting up to seven days. They are, however, ready to eat and already amazing after sitting three days.

They last for a long time in the refrigerator. I don’t know how long, because I’ve never had any left over after a few weeks. And when they’re gone, mix up a new batch and you’re three days from a fresh jar! If you’ve never done any pickling before, and aren’t yet comfortable with canning, this is a great starter recipe to show what wonders are possible when you’re comfortable making preserved foods.

November 3, 2021: Tomato relish and tuna salad
Tomato relish: Tomato relish from an old cookbook of the Royal Australian Air Force Women’s Association.; Australia; tomatoes

The relish is good spooned over just about anything that could use salsa or relish.

Today is National Sandwich Day. I’ve had sandwich day posts about bread and about the meat that goes in the bread for four years now. Today, I’d like to travel to Australia for a look at the relish that goes between the meat and the bread.

Every once in a while, I run into something unique at an antique store. I often wonder how they got there. How did this typewritten cookbook of the Royal Australian Air Force Women’s Association end up in an antique store in Fort Worth, Texas?

However it happened, I’m glad it did. One of the more intriguing recipes in it is today’s tomato relish. Whenever I buy a new cookbook, I make several test recipes before I decide if I’m going to keep the book. Often I’ll choose a recipe I wouldn’t normally make, and for this cookbook that was the tomato relish. I’m a big fan of dill relish; not so much of other kinds.

Because this is an Australian recipe, the tomatoes, onion, and sugar are all measured by weight, not volume. I’ve put approximations of what the volume should be after each of those ingredients, and there’s a lot of leeway anyway; you should be able to adjust the ingredients according to your own taste. That said, a kitchen scale is an invaluable cooking and baking tool, and decent digital ones are relatively inexpensive.

  1. <- Buttery potatoes
  2. Ice cream ->