I have looked hard for some mark of distinction, something that would separate me from the masses.
I think I have found it. I come from a town where residents put mayonnaise on the outside of the sandwich.
The Oakford Special Sandwich, the signature dish of the Oakford Tea Room in St. Joseph, Mo., is made by covering the outside of the sandwich with a mayo-like substance called Oakford Dressing. It is put on the top of the sandwich, like frosting.
Unfortunately, even though I lived in the town 12 years, this was news to me. In the East End neighborhood I grew up in, the mayo was always on the inside of sandwiches. I must have lived on the wrong side of town, the mayo-on-the-inside section. In my neighborhood, frosting was frosting and mayo was a condiment.
But on the other side of town, by the Oakford Tea Room, people were putting mayonnaise on the outside of their sandwiches. Moreover, they were keeping their mayo habits a secret.
I didn't find out about this unusual behavior until some St. Joe transplants now living in Baltimore wrote me a letter and asked for the recipe for the Oakford Special.
The mail also brought a recipe for a "healthy" version of Kool-Aid, and some news on what children supposedly want to eat while traveling.
Mayo St. Joe Style:
On the outside seeping in
From: Sue Hassenbusch, Baltimore.
Re: Column on St. Joe cookbook.
Dear Happy Eater,
My husband and I enjoy reading your column since we too hail from St. Joseph, Mo. Last week another St. Joe friend was in town visiting us and we were trying to reconstruct the "Oakford ** Special." Can you help?
Eater replies: Here, from "Palette To Palate," the cookbook published by the Junior League of St. Joseph, is the recipe for the sandwich. I have never heard of this sandwich but will now claim it as one of my hometown favorites.
3 slices buttered bread, crusts removed
thinly sliced tomato
finely chopped celery
thinly sliced cucumber
thinly sliced chicken or turkey
thinly sliced ham
six tablespoons Oakford dressing
sliced olives and parsley for garnish
On first slice of bread, place layer of tomatoes, a layer of celery, and layer of cucumbers. Place second slice of bread on top of cucumbers. On this slice of bread place chicken, turkey or ham. Top with third slice of bread and frost with Oakford dressing.
Makes 2 cups, enough for 6 to 8 sandwiches.
5 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup water
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup egg yolks
1 cup salad oil
In a small saucepan, mix flour, butter, sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, paprika and water. Cook over low heat and stir until thick. Cool slightly.
Transfer to bowl of food processor, blender or mixer and mix in lemon juice and egg yolks until well blended. With machine running, add oil gradually. (If using mixer use high speed.) Store in refrigerator.
Juicing up an old friend,
From: Nell Nutter, Newark, Ohio.
Re: Column on making Kool-Aid.
Dear Happy Eater,
I hold in my hand a 1-ounce raspberry Kool-Aid package, copyright 1951, one of six flavors retrieved from my Kansas family home. It is "a mixture of dextrose, citric acid, artificial flavor and color."
Compare . . . to a 1990 package . . . "malic acid (prevents tartness), sugar, salt, calcium phosphate (prevents caking) artificial color, vitamin C, artificial flavor."
Note no food, all chemicals.
Now for a great healthy drink, mix your Kool-Aid with 6 ounces frozen orange concentrate, 2/3 cups sugar and 2 quarts iced water. It is better than canned fruit drinks.
. . . Kool-Aid can also make a great syrup for snow cones.
Eater replies: I suspect some of the difference in the way the labels read stems from the fact that nowadays ingredient labeling is more specific.
However, I agree that old Kool-Aid tasted better than the stuff kids drink now. That is primarily because back then the color of the old stuff was more appealing -- red, blue or yellow. Now watching my kids drink the neon-colored Kool-Aid sends shudders down my spine. But this, of course, is how parents have reacted for generations to Kool-Aid drinking.
Kids on the road
From: Aurora Bullard, Los Angeles.
Re: Column on what kids eat in restaurants.
Dear Happy Eater,
Read your column on children and restaurants . . . and thought you might be interested in Hilton Hotels Corp.'s travel survey.
. . . The majority of the 300 children surveyed said that they have a strong say in what they eat while on vacation, with 51 percent stating they ordered their own food and 44 percent stating they order with the help of their parents.
The children ranked fruit, spaghetti and tacos as the three foods they would most prefer to eat while traveling, indicating that parents' healthy eating habits may influence their children's food choices.
Eater replies: I am suspicious of any survey that doesn't rank sugar-coated cereal as kids' meal of choice.