Two years ago, I was drawn to “aspics.” I wrote a blog post about this old-timey trend I revived in my mind. I never made an aspic and the gelatin packets still sit on my kitchen counter keeping a silent sentry to another time and food fad.
More recently, I’ve been reading vintage cooking pamphlets before bed. Other women my age are probably surfing “Stitch” on their mobile devices.
(What is “Stitch?” Why, it’s an online community “which helps everyone over 50 find the companionship they need” according to the Stitch website. Surf to it yourself. And yes, that’s a direct quotation from their site; I did not write the grammatical error. Besides, no one cares whether it’s “that” or “which” anymore. The important thing is the “stitch.”)
Flying over the staircase of time, I was intrigued by this promotional undated pamphlet, extolling the virtues of “sandwiches for every occasion.” It was published for The Cushman Bakery, once located on the corner of Elm and Kennebec Streets in Portland. Cushman’s was a popular business, noted for its bread trucks that sped along the city streets delivering the staff of life to homes. It’s hard to believe, but food delivery existed before Jeff Bezos and Amazon. The brochure says “Cushman’s service to your home is a great time-saver…right at your door you have the undivided attention of a trained salesman who knows that courtesy, clean habits and intelligent service are as important for your satisfaction as fine quality products.”
The inside cover of the brochure featured a photograph of “pretty Miss Yvette Gagne, 1946 Potato Blossom Queen” receiving a loaf of Cushman’s Maine Potato Bread from Mr. E.S. Cushman, Vice-President and Manager of the Cushman Baking Company. The photo caption noted this loaf was presented to Miss Gagne at a banquet introducing the new bread.
“Keep a good table by keeping Cushman’s Maine Potato Bread on it! It’s made for New England folks who insist on good bread!”
The brochure also featured a forward by Demetria Taylor, a nationally noted food editor for the Parade magazine who also authored a number of cook books. She wrote:
“Ever since the Earl of Sandwich invented the idea of putting meat between bread slices so that he could eat without interrupting his game of cards, the sandwich named after him has been forever popular as fine fare for all occasions.”
The pamphlet featured almost fifty recipes for tasty treats like “Quick Supper Sandwiches” and “Too-Hot-To-Cook-Sandwiches.” (Is the latter the Stitch signature sandwich?)
Clubbed, crust-less, or toasted, Cushman’s bread was the foundation of good eating. And the implication was that these gluten-filled morsels were also the glue of companionship. No one would eat a “Bridge Luncheon Sandwich” alone. Nor a “Porch Supper” sandwich. These sandwiches were meant to be shared. Please, darling, pack more than one in the lunch box for sharing with co-workers.
There will be more to say about sandwiches in the coming weeks, but for now, I’ll take a ham and cheese on rye for my morning flight of fancy.