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Saucy Salads and Sandwiches at the Edgewater Beach Hotel

 The grounds of the Edgewater Beach Hotel. Postcard published by Curt Teich Co., Chicago. 
Seeing the pink high-rise Edgewater Beach Apartments on Sheridan Road near Bryn Mawr Avenue makes one think of the famed Edgewater Beach Hotel structures that once stood nearby.

In its heyday in the 1920s through the 1940s, the hotel was a popular spot with honeymooners and visiting celebrities alike. You could also eat one heck of a salad or sandwich there.

Arnold Shircliffe, who worked as the catering manager at the hotel, wrote A Book of Salads in 1926 and The Edgewater Sandwich Book in 1930. A sampling of recipes from these cookbooks shows that Shircliffe knew how to elevate these everyday convenience foods into works of art. He also had very different ideas about salads and sandwiches than what we typically eat today.

The Colonnade Room at the Edgewater Beach Hotel. Postcard published by Max Rigot Selling Agency of Chicago. 

A Book of Salads was referred to as “the bible of salad makers” according to the Chicago Tribune archives. In this book, Shircliffe lays out the 5 basic types of salad dressing: French dressing, mayonnaise, animal fat, sour cream, and “cooked dressing.” Cheese was a key ingredient in many of his salads, and presentation was key. For example, the Iron Salad consisted of dates, raisins, cottage cheese, endive, and cress artfully arranged on a plate. And although the Tribune states that Shircliffe was “exceedingly fond of lettuce,” this key ingredient seemed to be used mainly for decorative purposes. Shircliffe’s Breakfast Salad recipe begins with a measly 2 or 3 lettuce leaves, on top of which is piled tomato, scrambled eggs whipped with cream and Worcestershire sauce, and boiled ham.

The Edgewater Sandwich Book included recipes for a Pig’s Feet Sandwich, a Rabbit Sandwich, and even a Squirrel Sandwich, just to name a few. Shircliffe’s Prune Sandwich consisted of prunes, lemon juice, mayonnaise, butter, and lettuce on whole-wheat bread, offering a slightly healthier option. The Cannibal Sandwich featured raw ground beef mixed with onions and seasoning as its main ingredient. “Sprinkle with chopped chives and criss-cross with fork tines to give a decorative appearance,” the recipe concludes. Shircliffe dedicated The Edgewater Sandwich Book to none other than the Earl of Sandwich, the Brit who invented the lunchtime staple.  

Marine Dining Room. Postcard published by Curt Teich & Co. of Chicago.

Shircliffe went on to become manager of the Wrigley Building restaurant, a position he held until his death in 1952 at the age of 72. Perhaps Shircliffe’s fondness for rich ingredients stemmed from his time spent serving his country prior to his time at the Edgewater Beach Hotel. During World War I, he initiated food train service for U.S. troops in France. And during World War II, he was a food consultant to the U.S. Army and Navy. One thing is for sure: After reading samples from these cookbooks, I will never think of salads and sandwiches the same way again. And one more thing: If you’re going to make a Cannibal Sandwich, it had better look decorative.

Written by Emily Ruzich

Note: Special thanks to Amy Dobrowolsky for telling me about A Book of Salads and providing the inspiration for this post.
The following blogs also provided excerpts from the cookbooks:                                                                
Cookbook of the Day (www.cookbookoftheday.blogspot.com) 
A Study of Reading Habits (www.studyofreadinghabits.wordpress.com)

A second postcard of the Marine Dining Room. This postcard was published by Max Rigot Selling Agency of Chicago.


Comments

  1. A "Cannibal Sandwich" is just steak tartar.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The pink Edgewater Beach Apartments were never a hotel building; they’ve always been apartments. The two hotel buildings shown on the postcard were yellow and were torn down. This is a common mistake.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Out of curiosity I made a prune sandwich, and it was better than I expected.

    ReplyDelete
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