Let us now praise little sandwiches


Is there a more perfect food, in circumstances that require as many fingers free as possible, than the little sandwich? Finger sandwiches, they call them, and not without reason. The mad gesturing small-talker can wave a chicken-salad sandwich-ette with impunity, with bravado, even mucho gusto, confident that no filling will be flung. The nibbling-challenged and those prone to dribbling; the party guest who lives in dread of his crab careening off his canapé; the gastronomically green – for these tender souls, infant-sized sandwiches are sublime.

Little sandwiches, you make life better, one egg salad at a time.

I’ve just returned from Nova Scotia where I joined my family and friends to celebrate my parents’ 60th anniversary. That’s impressive, I know. As impressive, you ask, as the person who thought, “Why not take an asparagus spear and cream cheese and ROLL it in bread?” Yes! As impressive even as the person who said, “I’ll see your asparagus and raise you a gherkin.”

The reception was held in the hall of St. James United Church in Antigonish, where the crack team of United Church Women prepare sandwiches and sweets with management skills we can only dream our public service might possess. Ham salad, egg salad, chicken salad, egg-and-ham-salad-double-deckers-on-white-AND-brown-bread, the aforementioned asparagus rollies, squares and sweets in amounts that must have depleted the supply of coconut and condensed milk in the metropolitan area.

But it’s the sandwiches we’re concerned with here, for I haven’t mentioned the element that makes a little sandwich a little sandwich. You know what it is: no crust. Spurned and cast away, the crust is anathema to the party platter ethos. A little sandwich with a crust is an abomination. A curse on the crust, I say!

The reception was masterminded by my older brother, a designer, and he, my other brother and sister and I set up the hall with draping gauze, faux diamonds, yellow and purple bunting, and centrepieces consisting of yellow roses along with lilacs stolen off a stranger’s property that I probably shouldn’t talk about. The hall looked beautiful for my parents. Prior to the event, the sweets were laid out on one buffet table, covered in glistening wrap. But the other buffet table stood empty. Where were the sandwiches? When were the sandwiches?

When could I begin stuffing my face with sandwiches?

Was there a crisis in the kitchen? A UCW coup, perhaps by a pro-crust faction? Tainted ham?

But how could I have doubted those UCW ladies? The sandwiches debuted as the first guests arrived, and through the afternoon tray after tray appeared, the spent trays with their untouched garnish (cilantro! those classy ladies!) whisked away with military precision.

And the beauty here – on top of the rectangular symmetry of the sandwiches themselves, offset by the occasional pinwheel – was how, between conversations with friends and relatives, I was able to grab a sandwich off a tray and stuff it in my mouth faster than you could say, “If you can’t stand the hairnet, get out of the kitchen.” Sustenance is crucial in conversing with cousins.

The afternoon was a success – the music, the limo drive for my parents (at 83, their first ever!), the weather, the family photos, the decorations and flowers, the not getting arrested for stolen lilacs. And best for last: leftovers.

I don’t know whether it was my brother or Mom who told the ladies how many guests to expect, but he or she was wise, brilliant even, to tell them, “Mobs! We’ll have wall-to-wall well-wishers! Anticipate armies of Antigonish anniversary enthusiasts! Once more unto the bread, dear friends!” For there were containers of everything-salad sandwiches to bring home, and that’s exactly what you want.

After the busy day prior, you want little sandwiches for breakfast, little sandwiches for lunch, little sandwiches for mid-afternoon snack, but not little sandwiches for supper, because let’s not be ridiculous. My sister, daughter and I baggied up some little sandwiches and took them on a hike. They ended up being squooshed little sandwiches but they were crustless and saladed, which is already mostly squooshed, therefore no less delicious, and they made the hike that much better.

Little sandwiches make life that much better.

Could you eat little sandwiches all the time, every day? Of course not. Part of the joy of little sandwiches is the excitement of discovery and exclaiming, “Little sandwiches!” You would eventually get tired of little sandwiches. Thankfully, just before you do get tired of little sandwiches, you run out.

Which we did. Quickly.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
This entry was posted in Family - whadya gonna do?, It Really Did Happen! and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Let us now praise little sandwiches

  1. Mick Theebs says:

    This post made me really hungry.

    Nice job!

  2. I think any word with the word ‘salad’ appended to it, with the exception of ‘green’ is GROSS – beat that #killjoy. And I LIKE crusts! SO THERE! But I love the idea of miniature foods – and shoving mini cannolis into my maw faster than dog let loose at a buffet table o’carved meats.

  3. “…crack team of United Church Women….” Apparently ‘Project Brazen 2’ was looking in the wrong place.

  4. I love the little sandwiches! I’m also big on the mini hot dogs in pastry dough… You would never buy them for yourself, but they’re so bad they’re good.

  5. Mmm…little sandwiches…the only thing that can lure my mouth full of sweet teeth to the more sugarless part of the table…
    Well, that and salsa.

  6. candidkay says:

    This is really unfair. Now I want some little sandwiches. Cucumber and cream cheese. Egg salad. Tuna with capers and pickle. See . . . I’m on a roll . ..

  7. kerbey says:

    Makes me feel sorry for all the folks who are gluten-free…Missing out!

  8. ubecute says:

    Yummy! Delectable.

  9. "HE WHO" says:

    Brings back all kinds of memories. I didn’t think there was anyone still alive that knew how to make thise little sandwiches. And I’m with Mick on this one. It made me really hungry.

  10. "HE WHO" says:

    And sorry about the spelling error. I guess I’m more than hungry. I’m shaky.

  11. Paul says:

    Mini foods of all kinds are appreciated Ross. Imagine your mini-sandwiches with mini-carrots and for desert, mini-doughnuts. My grandma was United and I have experienced the wonders of the UCW food preparation processes. It is truly awesome and once begun is difficult to stop. Left-overs abound. You know, some complain about the squishiness of fresh whatever-salad mini sandwiches when transported from their birth-platters. I can clearly recall as a child (or being childish) delighting in shaping them into balls or wafers for later consumption. The mini sandwich ball can be pierced with a mini-carrot and then a mini-donut can be hung on the free end of the mini-carrot. Thence, you can have a complete meal in the palm of your hand that can travel anywhere you can. Indeed, the invention of the mini sandwich is one of the landmark accomplishments of the human species – without it the UCW members would be left wandering aimlessly in the dark and dirty alleys of the world getting into who knows what mischief.

  12. breezyk says:

    My mom used to make aspAragus sandwiches for baby showers when I was a kid. So ghetto yet oh so delicious!!

  13. ksbeth says:

    little sandwiches and the people with a knack for making them are magnificent.

  14. byebyebeer says:

    Such a happy little post. Happy 60th to your parents! Happy little sandwiches to YOU!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Thank you. I’ll tell you a secret: I wrote this in a flurry on the plane ride home. With the drone and lack of distractions, it’s my new favourite place to write. Bit expensive, though.

  15. buntymcc says:

    And the UCWomen, who can no longer stand the thought of little sandwiches, are at home enjoying proper green salads with bread-crust croutons and fresh fish dredged in bread crumbs.

  16. Ned's Blog says:

    OK, I think I have a plan. When we eventually meet on neutral ground somewhere between Canada and the U.S. (think Hawaii) for a beer, you bring little sandwiches and I’ll bring Lil’ Smokies. Both will be too cute to actually eat, of course, but that’s what the beer is for.

  17. benzeknees says:

    I love little sandwiches! Mmmmmmmmm . . . You forgot to mention Cheez Whiz & gherkin as one of your choices though – it makes a nice contrast in color from all the “salad” sandwiches. I love the bread without crusts & the bread always seems to be so fresh (probably because of all the mayonnaise, but I’m not complaining)! But watch out for the dreaded cheese & olive little sandwiches – oh gross!

  18. Trent Lewin says:

    I am now officially famished. I used to make little sandwiches, crust all cut off, all the time. Then I realized that they were kind of bad for me, so I stopped. The other week, I was in UK and had fried bread for breakfast, little trianges soaked heavily in oil that used to catch and surround a pat of butter and a pocket of raspberry jam. It was bliss.

  19. Letizia says:

    Asparagus Rollies would be a good name for a band.

    You’re so right, the joy of finger sandwiches is that they are not eaten everyday so it’s an unexpected treat, haha!

  20. Chris Brown (not the felon) says:

    Supper. Only a Maritimer calls it supper. I’ll be in Halifax this Saturday and was just telling my wife that I can’t wait to go there so I can say “I’m going for supper!!!!” and people won’t just stare at me blankly. That is why mini-wiches do not work for supper. Unless they’re fisherman’s supper sandwiches. Which would just be a ball of mush. And 5,000 calories per bite.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      You can also tell someone from Nova Scotia from the way they say “yeah” in agreement to something. It’s done on an in-breath, impossible to spell but kind of “hyuh!” Apparently I do it when I’m on the phone with my mother.

  21. cat9984 says:

    Wow. I thought it was hard-wired into Canadians not to be this enthusiastic about anything. Must be the influence of the Francophiles.

  22. They’re also fun to make, provided you cut them after you fill them. ;-P

  23. uncharted586 says:

    As a perpetually crab-careening creative, I feel inspired to now put all the things I consume between bread. It will save me a lot of future shame, I think. Thanks!

  24. rossmurray1 says:

    Reblogged this on Drinking Tips for Teens and commented:

    A friend from high school ran into my mother at my parents’ church this week, which got us talking about church potlucks and comfort food and, of course, little sandwiches. This all reminded me of this post from a few years ago, one of my favourites (and tastiest). A Sunday morning is as good a time as any to repost it.

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