Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Onion Sandwiches

Oh yes I did!

I grew up believing that I didn't like onions because my family didn't, but turns out I love them. But that is not why I had to try this tasty sandwich, because frankly I'd never heard of it until I read this beautiful book called Heaven to Betsy. May I share with you the part in the book about the Onion Sandwich?

  Sunday Night Lunch was an institution at the Ray house. They never called it supper; and they scorned folks who called it tea. The drink of the evening was coffee, which Mrs. Ray loved, and although Betsy and Margaret still took cocoa, their loyalty was to coffee for her sake.

The meal was prepared by Mr Ray. This was a custom of many years standing. No one else was allowed in the kitchen except in the role of admiring audience. He didn't object when Anna (the hired girl) or Mrs. Ray made a cake earlier in the day; he didn't mind the girls putting cloth on the dining room table. But in the kitchen on Sunday evenings he was supreme.First he put the coffee on..... He got a wooden bread board, and a sharp knife which he always proceeded to sharpen further. He sliced the bread in sensibly thick slices and he never cut off the crusts. Mr. Ray's opinion of sandwiches without crusts matched Mrs. Ray's opinion of tea on Sunday nights. The butter had been put to soften, and now around the breadboard he ranged everything he could find in the ice box. Sometimes there was a cold roast beef, sometimes chicken, sometimes cheese. If nothing else was available he made his sandwiches of onions. He used slices of mild Bermuda onions, sprinkled with vinegar and dusted with pepper and salt. About the use of pepper and salt Mr Ray had very positive ideas. He used his condiments with the care and precision of a gourmet. Not too much! Not too little! And spread so evenly that each bite had the heavenly seasoning of the one before.

"I'm not," he used to say with sedate pride, "the sort of sandwich maker who puts salt and pepper all in one place with a shovel. No, siree!" And then he would add, for emphasis, "No siree, BOB!"
The onion sandwiches were most popular of all with the boys who flocked to the Ray house.

Mr. Ray didn't mind company for Sunday Night Lunch; in fact, he liked it. The larger the audience, the more skill and ingenuity he displayed in his sandwich combinations. Tall, black haired, big-nosed, benevolent, an apron tied around his widening middle, he perched on a stool in the pantry with assorted guests all around the house.
The guests were of all ages...... Old and young gathered in the dining room around the table beneath the hanging lamp. The big platter of sandwiches was placed in the center. A cake sat on one side, a dish of pickles on the other. There was a simmering pot of steaming coffee, of course; but the sandwiches were king of the meal.

Without further ado- may I share with you this Heavens to Betsy/James Beard inspired Onion Sandwich-

(because the vinegar added in Mr Ray's sandwich wouldn't hold out too well in a lunch box, and neither would James Beard's parsley rimmed sandwiches)

Onion Sandwich

1 sandwich thin
thinly sliced onion (I always prefer Vidalia)
dried parsley
salt and pepper

Spread both bread slices with mayo. Sprinkle parsley on both sides. Add thinly sliced onion and add salt and pepper but not all in one place with a shovel, as Mr Ray warned!

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