Fiction

Kitchen Mystic by Paulette Licitra

The Deconstruction by Karen Cantrell

Patisserie de Pakistan by Gregors Johnson

Meals of a Lifetime by Rebecca Keller

Ode to Risotto by Donald Newlove

Fully Committed by Doug Sovern

Biscuits and Gravy by William Blomstedt

Keeping It Tidy by Alan Linton

If I Knew You Were Coming by Alisha Lumea

On Your Only Day Off by Nicole Edwards

Bagpipes and Pan Fried Smelts by Ted Radakovic

Joseph Conrad’s Dark Linguini by Giovanni Berchtold

Missing Something by Jean-Luc Bouchard

We Love You, Mayonnaise! by Alona Martinez

Japanese Food by Esther Cohen

Raw Köfte by Hardy Griffin

Proust's Soup by Giovanni Berchtold

A Sacred Virgin by Paulette Licitra

on a friday evening by Keith Leidner

Ropa Vieja by Raul Palma

Deidre's Last Meal by Esther Cohen

Wired by Alan Linton

Chestnut by Katherine Gleason

The Moon is an Outdoor Sandwich by Patty Houston

Garlicky Greens by Lois Marie Harrod

First the Shell, Musical; Then the Custard, Irrevocable by Sarah Begley

Meals of Choice by Dorian Fox

A Low Table by Christian Aguiar

The Sylvian Fissure by Rosalie Loewen

Two Versions of Eating Potatoes by David Spiering

Conch Salad by Michele Ruby

Hopper by Michael Onofrey

Caution: Coffee is Hot by Gary Scott

The Fairy Part by Alberto Giuseppe

Foie Gras by Judith Edelman

Rosemary and Olive Oil by Gail Gauthier

Mario's Shoes by Natalie Parker-Lawrence

Cake by Marianne Villanueva

Retreat: October on Copper Mountain by M.E. Parker

The Sandwich Diaries by Angus Woodward

But There Was No Star Anise by Andrew Martell

Fruit Route by Susan King

The Sandwich Diaries

by Angus Woodward

September 2012    

*Excerpted from the Journals of John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich*

 

November 11, 1765

It pains me to watch these rumpled men trudging past the manor gates at the noon hour, headed to their hovels for a spot of lunch. Two hours later they trudge back to the mine to resume their labors, having gorged on gristle stew or some such, no doubt swilling grog at the same time. It seems to me that the Monarchy could only benefit from a more efficient manner of feeding these toilers. I shall study upon it.

 

November 13, 1765

Mr. Gates has soiled the ballroom curtains again. Careless man. What with his peccadilloes and fiddling with the boy’s telescope, I’ve scarce had time to apply my considerable wisdom to the problem of the miners’ lunchtime dawdles, though I did take up a quill last evening and make some calculations, proving that the omission or more efficacious commission of the miners’ midday meal could result in a weekly increase in coal production of 14 tonnes per week in one mine alone.

 

November 14, 1765

My fingers are black with ink and my eyes weary. All day I have bent over my secretary, sketching and drafting plans for an elaborate system of pulleys, winches, and wooden carts whose aim is to transport luncheon tables from far-flung hovels to the entrance of the mine. Wives would have only to set plates of gruel and pigskin or some such upon their customary tables at home, then slide them along rails of oak to their yards and fasten them by rope to passing harnesses, powered by asses, whereupon the tables would ascend ramps and join the queue of tables streaming from all directions to the mine, whose laborers would emerge at appointed times to be seated on wheeled stools, to eat at their very own tables (perhaps identified by brass plates stamped with numbers somehow corresponding to their home locales), then dismount and re-enter the mine, well-fed and refreshed. I am not quite yet satisfied that I have predicted every obstacle and mechanical difficulty. Tomorrow I shall construct a scale model.

 

November 15, 1765

A visit from the Baron of Panini has annoyed me. I received him in my conservatory, a lack of discretion and will (as well as, perhaps, an unwarranted sense of friendship) lowering my guard to unprecedented measures. Upon his entrance, I was bent close to a three-sixteenths- scale capstan, the unkempt results of half a day’s work spread across the lid of the harpsichord. “How now?” he roared, sardonic. Upon receiving my explanation of the problem to which I have elected to apply my considerable powers of reason and invention, his impertinence reared its head, as past experience should have warned me it would, whereupon he suggested that my proposal contained unnecessary complexities and that the miners should do as the peasant farmers of his own baronage, namely carry squares of flatbread into the fields with them. With a smile did I escort him to the parlor, where I subjected him to a dissertation upon the science of nutrition lasting the better part of an hour.

 

November 19, 1765

Today, a breakthrough seemingly as glorious as the emergence of springtime flora from their long slumber beneath the greyed detritus of winter! Explorers of distant jungles perhaps discern that the very strangeness of their surroundings at times inspires. Such was the case today, this epiphany occurring as it did in the unfamiliar environs of the kitchen. Finding the kitchen being no easy matter, I blundered down many a blind corridor before finally locating it in the southwest corner of the manor. Scullery maids and a footman or two gaped for a moment before scattering, while Mrs. Cookington merely glanced in my direction, continuing to tear quills and down from the carcass of a goose. “Require ye some manner of assistance, sir?” she inquired, then acquiesced to my request to be allowed to investigate freely her fragrant bailiwick.

I gathered an assortment of victuals—two loaves of bread, a roast chicken, bundles of celery and onion, sprigs and heads of various greeneries—and instructed a scullery maid to transport them to the aviary. There I paced and fidgeted until the viands arrived and the servant arranged them upon a table. Dismissing her, I affixed my most ferocious gaze upon the array of foodstuffs. Perhaps an entire hour passed before I stirred from the spot. At last I experienced a stroke of inspiration, and I moved quickly to place chicken upon bread and bread upon chicken. I studied the assemblage for a moment, then gathered it in my arms and ran out onto the lawn, determined to share my invention with the nearest person. I spied my wife walking with a parasol and the Countess of Hoagie near the orchards. “Hester, come quickly!” I cried, gesticulating as best I could.

Hester whispered something to the Countess, and then the two of them lifted their skirts and hurried toward me. Hester’s head tilted at an angle that increased as she approached. “What is this monstrosity?” she demanded, but lightly.

“Why, it is a man’s meal. A transportable meal for a laborer!” I held the assemblage aloft.

“Dear husband,” Hester replied. “Is it not rather unwieldy?”

“Pray you taste of it,” I entreated her, thrusting the thing toward her.

“But how?” she enquired. “Shall I tear off a bit of the upper loaf, a piece of the hen, a bit of the lower loaf, or all three?”

All in a single moment my arms tired of holding the meal and my mind grasped the folly of my efforts. How would our local miners carry such a sizable item into the mines in addition to their tools, candles, canary cages, and the like? And what common family could afford two loaves and an entire roaster each day? Where would the miners throw the bones? I bid the tittering ladies a good day and returned to the greenhouse in as dignified a manner as I could muster.

 

November 23, 1765

I fear Mrs. Cookington has grown tired of my interruptions of her daily labors, a reluctant assistant to my experiments. Some days ago I instructed her to procure some young Cornish birds and to bake some large buns whose circumference matched approximately the breadth of my hand, fingers extended, that I might assemble a smaller version of the first invention. It, too, proved unwieldy. Despite Mrs. Cookington’s skepticism, I had her to surround entirely one of the remaining birds with the dough of a simple table bread, but the result was at first a perfect bread encasing a somewhat raw hen, and then a charred loaf encasing a perfect hen. On Tuesday I turned my attention to potatoes. Mrs. Cookington lent me a scullery maid with a rosy complexion, who proved more obliging than the cook herself. Under my guidance, she made sizable slices of potato and placed a chicken part between two of them. So pleased was I with the compact result that I ordered more be made for the servants to lunch upon, in addition to one for myself to enjoy. Begging Hester’s indulgence, I ate with my hands, just as I imagined a laborer deep underground might do. The taste was fine, though my hands became coated with an unpleasant slurry of starch and grease, and I spent the afternoon nursing a sour stomach. These difficulties I addressed the next day by having the potatoes roasted before slicing, but the results were unsatisfactory, as cooked potatoes do crumble quite readily.

 

November 25, 1765

Last night a foreign dignitary, the Caliph of Pita, accompanied by several nobles of our fair region, including the Duke of Burger, the Baron of Panini, the Count of Hoagie, and the Marquis of Burrito, did pay me a visit. A bottle of brandy facilitated the disposal of formality in short order, and the good Caliph requested, through his interpreter, that we demonstrate English card games, whereupon began a spirited session of Whist in which coin flowed as freely as brandy. The hour grew late and my guests began to present unsubtle clues regarding their desire for nutriment. Feeling that within three or four hands I might recoup some of the losses I had incurred, primarily to the cunning play of the Baron of Panini, I wished for some foodstuff which could be brought to our gaming table. Staring at a red knave situated between two black deuces, I envisioned a solution of admirable perfection. Beckoning to a manservant, I whispered my instructions, and before the next stroke of the clock a platter arrived. “Gentlemen,” I intoned. “Let us eat in the manner of Sandwich!” By general acclaim did those assembled proclaim the final iteration of my invention, slabs of pork held between slices of bread, to be the perfect substance for meals consumed away from table.

This morning I awoke at dawn and reviewed the happy events of yester eve. Soon I dozed again and experienced a hypnogogic vision of our empire two (or perhaps three) centuries hence, a world in which men carried “Sandwiches” to work in “Sandwich bags” specially made for that purpose, whether their professions brought them to mines, haberdasheries, or vicarages. Butchers and merchants in the vision I viewed offered “Sandwich meats” among their wares, cooked and sliced specially for constructing “Sandwiches.” I saw, scattered among the streets of London, “Sandwich shops” offering a variety of “Sandwiches” for their clientele to carry forth, their menus populated with a variety of configurations, some of them even carrying special monikers such as “the Montagu Sandwich” or “the Reuben Sandwich.” Market stalls all across the kingdom offered pots of special sauces to flavor “Sandwiches,” far and wide referred to as “Sandwich spreads,” ideal for use on bread made specifically for the construction of “Sandwiches,” some loaves of said bread even being sold ready-sliced to facilitate “Sandwich” construction. In my vision even did I witness men wandering the cobblestones outside of “Sandwich shops” advertising their employers’ wares by wearing large wooden planks covering their frontal and dorsal surfaces, words and insignia painted upon them extolling the quality and savor of each shops’ “Sandwiches.” It occurred to me that these signs could be called “Sandwich boards,” due both to their purpose of advertising “Sandwiches” and the similarity of their construction to the construction of actual “Sandwiches.” I saw as well large horseless vehicles, wondrous to behold, bearing Sandwich shops’ insignia, the names and prices of their offerings even painted upon the vehicles’ sides, and these Sandwich vehicles’ drivers did park them beside mines, universities, financial districts, and other locales where hungry working men were likely to congregate at midday. The hallucination concluded with a vision I hardly understood: a shiny corridor lit by white rectangles contained a strange machine, a sort of cabinet into which passersby inserted coins, whereupon Sandwiches enclosed in thin glass were deposited into a compartment below, from which these passersby retrieved their selections.

Here I must conclude, for I have just received urgent correspondence from the Duke of Lunchbox and the Viscount of Thermos!



  Angus Woodward is the author of the short story collection Down at the End of the River (Margaret Media, 2008) and the novel Americanisation: Lessons in American Culture and Language (Livingston Press, 2011). He lives in Baton Rouge, where he teaches writing at Our Lady of the Lake College.