United States, circa 1860s CE
- 3 slices of bread
- Suggested Garnishment: butter, salt and pepper, meat shreds
Butter two slices of bread and set aside. Toast a third slice of bread. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
Place cool toast between slices of buttered bread. Thin shreds of meat can also be added. Salt and pepper to taste.
Optional: Tempt the appetite of an invalid.
In 1861, 25-year-old Isabella Beeton published Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management. The book aimed to help Victorian women cook their men food that was so good it could compete with "that [food] at their clubs, well-ordered taverns, and dining-houses."
The book started as a series of recipe installments in her publisher husband's The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine.
Mrs. Beeton's was revolutionary because of its focus: the book's entire goal was to help women of any skill level manage their homes properly.
It was one of the first books to list out the ingredients and measurements of a recipe before the preparation instructions; a format we still use today. It also featured large, full color illustrations of ingredients, their rough costs, and recommended times of the year for getting your hands on them.
There was just one, tiny issue: Isabella Beeton wasn't so hot in the kitchen. She largely plagiarized popular recipes from the day, rewriting them in an easy to read format. And some of her basic understanding of food was...a bit off.
She suggested that you cook pasta for an hour and forty-five minutes. She thought garlic was nasty, and mangoes tasted like turpentine. Lobster was inedible garbage. Cheese was only for sedentary people. Potatoes? Toxic.
A version of this recipe for a Toast Sandwich appeared in the "Invalid Cookery" part of the book. This section dealt with preparing meals for the sick without upsetting their condition.
Sure, it wasn't a perfect book, but Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management was a huge help to the average, newly-married woman in Victorian times. It fostered closeness of the family and put an emphasis on thrifty meal preparation.
Even though she's largely forgotten today, Isabella Beeton was the Martha Stewart of her day - and then some.
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