Remember how I was going on about old-time school lunches (baloney sandwiches, Heinz Sandwich Spread) and the glories of wieners and beans in a couple of recent posts? Well, tonight I’d like to return to the food theme. Because tonight I am thinking about church-basement sandwiches.
Do you know what I mean by that phrase, church-basement sandwiches? I suspect that if, like me, you grew up in a small community in the middle part of the 20th century, and had any connection whatsoever with any church whatsoever, you will. Instantly. (Even if, as at St. Andrew’s United Church here in Queensborough, the church had a ground-floor hall, and not a basement, where people gathered after special services and funerals and the like.)
Church-basement sandwiches are those small triangular ones (the full-size slices of bread are cut into three), often with the crusts removed, white and brown bread, buttered and filled with tuna salad and salmon salad and chicken salad and ooooohh, very best of all, egg salad. There are also, of course, the round pinwheel ones, with the bread rolled up around a usually-cream-cheese-related filling. Also delicious, but nothing beats those triangular egg-salad ones.
And the really remarkable thing about those sandwiches is that you can eat them by the dozen (which you are inclined to do, because they are so very good) and – this is the crazy part – you never get full! You just want to eat more! How does that happen? Do they magically lose the ability to fill you up because they are crustless? Or because they are served in a church basement? Or because you are washing them down with that super-strong church-basement tea?
(When I was much younger I used to like to joke that you knew you were in a church basement when the only way you could tell whether the hot dark liquid you were being served was coffee or tea was to taste it. Man, it was tea that would put hair on your chest! But in recent years I have noticed that the church-basement tea tends to be a little more moderate.)
Anyway, those sandwiches are the best thing ever. And the very best part is that they are not (like, alas, so many things) a lost relic of my long-ago childhood. No, you still come across them fairly often – if, that is, you go to events in church basements.
If you ask me, they are one very fine reason (if you needed one) to “darken the church door” (as people used to say) every once in a while.