Delights of Delicate Eating
If things yield themselves unto our mercy why should we not have the fruition of them, or apply them to our advantage? From evil, good may come; from the little, springs greatness. A reckless gamester, to defy the pangs of hunger, which might drag him from his beloved cards, brings to the gaming table slices of bread with ham in between. If other men despise -- or deplore, according to their passing mood -- his folly, to their own pleasure and profit can they still turn his invention. The sandwich has become a universal possession for all time, though for a century the earl who created it has lain dead. His foibles should be forgotten, his one redeeming virtue remembered. For him a fair and spacious niche in the world's Valhalla.
For, in infancy, between the slices of bread, place thick, uncompromising pieces of beef or mutton, and to the Alps you are at once transported. Again, on the short, fragrant grass you sit; from its temporary snow-grave a little above, Perren or Imboden fetches the bottle of wind, ordinary enough in reality, nectar as you drink it there; Seiler's supplies you take from the faithful knapsack, opening paper package after paper package; and your feast of big, honest, no-nonsense-about-them sandwiches you devour with the appetite of a schoolboy, and the zeal of the convert to plain living and high mountain climbing.
Or, thin the slices, make them the covering for ham and tongue, or -- if you be greatly favoured -- for sardines and anchovies; and then memory will spread for you the banquet in the pleasant pastures that border the Cam, the willows bowering you from the August sun with Claret cup, poured, mayhap, into old college tankards, you quench your thirst, while lazily you listen to the distant plashing of oars and lowing of kine, and all life drifts into an idle dream.
Or, the ham of Bayonne, the pate de fois gras of Perigueux, you bury in the deep recesses of a long, narrow, crisp petit pain, and then, quick in a French railway carriage you will find yourself: a bottle of wine is at your side; the Echo de Paris lies spread on the seat before you; out of the window long lines of poplars go marching with you toward Paris, whither you are bound "to make the feast."
Grim and gruesome, it may be, are some of the memories evoked: ill-considered excursions to the bar of the English railway station, hasty lunches in chance bun shops, foolish testings of "ham and beef" limitations. But, henceforth, take heed to chasten your experience with the sandwich, that remembrance may not play you such scurvy tricks. Treat it aright with understanding and respect, and it will keep you in glad holiday humour, in the eating thereof as in the memory.
Life, alas! is
not all play in Thames sunshine
and keen Alpine air, or in hopeful journeying through the pleasant land
of France. But in the everyday of stern work and doleful dissipation
sandwich is an ally of infallible trustworthiness and infinite
In the hour of need it is never found wanting. To
have proclaimed in ex cathedra
you must lunch lightly;
but not, therefore, does it follow that the light luncheon should be
prosaic. Let it be dainty -- a graceful lyric -- that it may fill you
hope of the coming dinner. And
lyrical indeed is the savoury
well cut and garnished, served on rare faience or old silver; a glass,
or perhaps two, of Bordeaux of some famous vintage, to strengthen its
For the luncheon sandwich, choose from the countless treasures of the sea. Rapture is in the sardine, not the oiled from France, but the smoked from Norway; tunny fish or anchovies are dreams of delight; caviar, an ecstacy, the more delicious if a dash of lemon juice be added. And if you would know these in perfection, use brown bread instead of white. Salmon is not to be scorned, nor turbot to be turned from in contempt; they become triumphs if you are not too niggardly with cayenne pepper; triumphs not unknown to Cheapside. Nor are the various so-called creams -- of shrimps, of lobster, of salmon -- altogether to be despised, and they, too, the better prove for the judicious touch of cayenne. But confine not your experiments to the conventional or the recommended. Overhaul the counter of the fishmonger. Set your wits to work. Cultivate your artistic instincts. Invent! Create! Many are the men who have painted pictures; few those who have composed a new and perfect sandwich.
Upon sausage, also, you may count with loving faith. Butterbrod mit Wurst -- Wurst and philosophy, these are the German masterpieces. And here, you may visit the delicatessen shop to good purpose. Goose-liver, Brunswick, garlic, Bologna, truffled -- all fulfill their highest destiny, when in thinnest of thin slices, you lay them between slices no less thin of buttered bread -- brown or white, as artistic appropriateness suggests -- a faint suspicion of mustard to lend them piquancy.
Beef and mutton, when not cut in Alpine chunks, are comforting, and with mustard duly applied, grateful as well. Fowl and game, galantine and tongue, veal and brawn -- no meat there is, whether fresh or boned or potted, that does not adapt itself gracefully to certain occasions, to certain needs. And here, again, be not slow to arrange new harmonies, to suggest new schemes. It should be your endeavor always to give style and individuality to your sandwiches.
Cheese in shavings, or grated, has great merit. Greater still has the cool cucumber, fragrant from its garden ground, the unrivalled tomato, the crisp, sharp mustard and cress. Scarce a green thing growing that will not lend itself to the true artist in sandwich-making. Lettuce, celery, water-cress, radishes -- not one may you not test to your own higher happiness. And your art may be measured by your success in proving the onion to be the poetic soul of the sandwich, as of the salad bowl. For afternoon tea the dainty green sandwich is the daintiest of them all.
If to sweets your taste incline, then easily may you be gratified, though it be a taste smacking of the nursery and the schoolroom. Jams and marmalades you may press into service; chocolate or candied fruit. And sponge cake may take the place of bread, and, with strawberries between, you have the American strawberry short-cake.
But, whatever your sandwich, above all things see that its proportions be delicate and symmetrical; that it please the eye before ever the first fragment has passed into the mouth.
The Delights of Delicate Eating elevates "our daily bread" to a feast for the senses. Pennel leads the reader through the culinary delights of the day, from the fresh rolls of a solitary petit déjeuner through elaborate dinners complete with spotless linen, flawless silver, and cut flowers in vases of Venetian glass. Pennell sets good eating as the basis for good living, a healthy imagination, a happy marriage, stimulating conversation, and satisfying social intercourse. For all who would embrace such benefits, The Delights of Delicate Eating offers a lovely diversion