Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cucumber Sandwiches: Culinary and Social Implications

This summer, I had a few extra cucumbers. Not enough to make pickles or relish, too many to peel and eat. I remembered enjoying cucumber sandwiches one rainy summer day in Scotland, but I couldn't recall what was on them. That's how I happened to put together this strange collection of links. For the record, it was butter, not cream cheese, on the sandwiches I enjoyed, and they were not, I don't believe, excessively effete.

  • Cucumbersandwiches.org
    We are a community open to clergy-husbands of all Christian denominations. We aim to build each other up; and provide a space to consider the issues surrounding the ordination and continuing ministry of our wives.
  • Roni's cucumber sandwiches
    cream cheese, mayo and dry Italian dressing  
    8oz cream cheese
    1/2 c. mayo
    1 pkg. dry Italian salad dressing(1pkg. makes 8oz. dressing)
    3-4 medium size cucumbers
    1 loaf bread your choice
    
  • Esther's Cucumber Sandwiches

    I grew up in England in a household where we had cucumber sandwiches for tea very often; we also used to take them for seaside picnics. Here is the recipe of my grandfather's housekeeper, Esther King:

          Ingredients:
    
        * 1 thin cucumber
        * 1 loaf brown bread, sliced
        * 1 stick sweet butter
        * salt and pepper to taste 
    
    Peel cucumber and slice in paper-thin rounds. Salt rounds lightly 
    and place in colander for 15 minutes to drain. Press to release 
    water; pat dry with paper towels.
    
    Spread sliced bread (bakery whole wheat is closest to English Hovis) 
    with softened sweet butter. Put 2 layers of cucumber slices on bottom 
    slice, salt and pepper to taste, and top with another buttered slice. 
    Press lightly with palm of hand. Cut all crusts off with a sharp 
    knife. Cut sandwiches in half diagonally.
    
  • B's Cucumber Pages: The Cucumber Recipe File

    Here's some ideas of things to do with cucumbers when you're in the culinary mood. All the recipes I find or receive, I post.

  • Cucumber sandwich, from Wikipedia

    The traditional cucumber sandwich is composed of paper-thin slices of cucumber placed between two triangular slices of lightly buttered white bread....

    Cucumber sandwiches contain little protein and so are generally not considered sustaining enough to take a place at a full meal. This is deliberate; cucumber sandwiches have historically been associated with the Victorian era upper classes of the United Kingdom, whose members were largely at leisure and who, therefore, could afford to consume foods with little nutritive value. Stereotypically, cucumber sandwiches formed an integral part of a polite afternoon tea. (By contrast, people of the era's lower working classes were thought to prefer a coarser but more satisfying protein-filled sandwich, in a "meat tea" that might substitute for supper.)

    Some writers have attempted to draw out an association between the daintiness of the sandwich and the perceived effeteness of the British aristocracy. Cucumber sandwiches are often used as a kind of shorthand in novels and films to identify upper class people, occasionally in a derogatory manner. In addition, the sandwiches were once considered appropriate delicacies to offer to visiting clergy, in times when such visits were still a common feature of English middle class life.

    The popularity of the cucumber sandwich reached its upper-class zenith in the Edwardian era, when cheap labour and plentiful coal enabled cucumbers to be produced in hotbeds under glass through most of the year. With the declining popularity of tea as a meal in the United Kingdom, largely a result of the increasing proportion of women working outside the home, there was a corresponding decline in the popularity of cucumber sandwiches, but they are still frequently served at teas, luncheons, and gatherings. They are now increasingly popular in the UK due to the hotter and longer summers, and the range of variants of accompaniments from take-away sources (e.g. supermarkets etc.) are large - hence they are a popular lunchtime snack for workers. Most English cricket clubs supply malt vinegar and ground pepper to dash inside the sandwich and this is the simplest form commonly used in England.

2 comments:

Harry said...

I actually know the person who was responsible for much of the text of the Wikipedia cucumber sandwches entry. And by 'know' I mean: I can't remember which of the people I've met online it was, but it was one of them.

I can't remember how much it has changed from when it started, but something of the original tone is still there. That flavour of having been written by an individual with a sense of humour rather than a committee. It's always a pleasure when you stumble on such a Wikipedia oasis. Except when it's really bloody annoying, of course.

Melissa said...

I haven't had cucumber sandwiches in ages, but they sound good. I'm having a get together in a couple of weeks and will add them to the menu of finger-foods.