In memory of Rodney Dangerfield’s iconic sandwich – The Forward

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Rodney Dangerfield has my respect – and continues to inspire my sandwiches.

The comedian who would have turned 100 today and in films like “Caddyshack” (and once animated dog version of himself) is not always my thing. His signature jokes about his wife – an unfortunate staple of the borscht belt – don’t do me much good. But its ability to make sandwiches remains unmatched.

In my opinion, the biggest Dangerfield moment in 1986 is Back to School. The film’s basic plot, similar to that of An Extremely Goofy Movie from 2000 and Life of the Party from 2018, is that Thornton Melon (Dangerfield), a self-made titan of the industry and Son of immigrants, to be in. enrolls son’s college and incurs the dean’s wrath. On the way, Melon attracts wealthy party-goers by making a sandwich from various hors d’oeuvres at an unusual event.

He cuts a loaf of bread – by trimming out much of its internal gluten to create a reservoir – and stuffs in some Swedish meatballs, spanakopita, and devil eggs. “I hate small meals, you know,” jokes Melon, née Tony Meloni, into the camera. He later says that he “learned that in Europe”. But does he really have that?

Allow me to talk about this roughly assembled sandwich. To me, it’s not just a sandwich, it’s a legacy. Dangerfield is at his best in this scene as he plays a nouveau riche whose street smart life hacks improve the finer things. The sandwich tells the story of Dangerfield’s generation that came out of nowhere and earned their place at the table in their own way, using prejudices and quotas to their advantage, and finding opportunities and innovations in the gaps in possibility.

It’s not hard to imagine a sandwich like Melons being born at Hillcrest Country Club or Kutscher’s, but it’s so much better to see how he makes it among the nobility who make their way without his own sense of arbitrary propriety would have found it eons ago – or whenever Swedish meatballs found their way to the States.

Is the sandwich good? Well, when Andrew Rea from YouTube channel “Binging with Babish” brought it out, he said it out loud “Pretty great.” But even if not, I would celebrate the wealth of ideas behind it. It’s personal.

After my sister’s wedding, my aunt’s friend pulled me and my cousins ​​aside to advise us on how best to serve the hotel buffet. His suggested mishmash was toasting bread, melting cold cheese, and getting a little of everything in one bite. Not a “little meal”, just a big idea of ​​how to work with what we are given.

Maybe he channeled Rodney Dangerfield on purpose – or he was just Jewish.


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