Peanut butter, bologna, cheddar cheese sandwiches not on menu

The Monday Munch at the senior center 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. menu is bacon cheeseburger sliders, Montreal style slaw (no mayo), chips, dip, strawberry shortcake and lemonade.

All are welcome. There is no charge, but a $5 donation is suggested.

According to “Einstein’s Beets: An Examination of Food Phobias,” Hubert Humphrey’s favorite sandwich was peanut butter, bologna, cheddar cheese, lettuce and mayonnaise on toasted bread with lots of catsup on the side. Fear not! Volunteer cooks at the Charlotte Senior Center will go with what Helen Mirren ate after receiving an Oscar — a burger.

In White Castle lore, in 1921, Billy Ingram launched a family-owned business with 5-cent, small, square hamburgers so easy to eat, they were dubbed sliders. In 2014, Time Magazine declared the chain’s “original slider” the most influential burger of all time.

The bacon cheeseburger was reportedly invented in 1963 by someone who worked at an A&W restaurant, making it a newcomer in food lore.

Probably no one is surprised that the “Escoffier Cook Book” contains no entry for “slaw,” but near “slaw” in the index I spotted a food unlikely to appear on any Monday Munch menu at the Charlotte Senior Center — sheep’s tongue.

In “The Art of Eating,” M. F. K. Fisher advises, “If we are going to live on other inhabitants of this world, we must not bind ourselves with illogical prejudices, but savor to the fullest the beast we have killed.”

After mentioning the regrettably long time it takes to cook tongue, she offers recipes for beef brains and kidneys. Having cooked beef tongue, I can affirm her note about this long cooking time. Tasty, it’s definitely not for those who want the convenience of TV dinner fare.

Here’s a great small comment on food cachet from “Baking with Kafka” by Tom Gauld:

“‘Dammit! This case is going nowhere,’ thought the detective, as he studied the evidence pinned to the wall and lit his first cigarette of the day, poured his first coffee of the day, blended his first avocado and kale smoothie of the day.”

Cabbage was plentiful at Monticello. In his meticulously kept “Garden Book,” Thomas Jefferson records planting 18 varieties of cabbage in 30 different locations.

A popular food item, wild strawberries played an important ceremonial and medicinal role in the lives of Native Americans. Besides the berries, the leaves, runners and roots were used frequently in medicinal applications. The Navajo in particular considered strawberries to be an important medicinal resource. According to Cherokee legend, the strawberry was associated with love and happiness.

Read “The Cherokee Legend of the First Strawberry” here

Although not plentiful in most 18th-century Virginia gardens, strawberries abounded at Monticello, ranking as one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite fruits. In 1767, harvesting strawberries from his garden at Shadwell, Jefferson noted in his “Garden Book” that “100 fill half a pint.” Clearly, we now enjoy a much larger berry than the Alpine strawberry flourishing at Monticello.

Fully aware that there were slaves and servants at Monticello, still I am working hard to restrain myself from comparing Jefferson’s meticulous record of garden happenings with contemporary politicos’ daily social media rants.

Madame Tallien (nee Juana María Ignacia Teresa de Cabarrús y Galabert), a prominent figure in the court of Emperor Napoleon, seems to be remembered today for adding the juice of 22 pounds of strawberries to her bath water. Like the Cherokee, she regarded the fruit as having healing properties. But this woman who bore 11 children and featured as a prominent character in Baroness Orezy’s “The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel” should be noted for more than her bath water.

The “short” in shortcake refers not to the cake’s height but to a cake with a crumbly scone-like texture. The earliest printed mention of the descriptive term “short,” as in shortcake, appears in “The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchen,” a period recipe book published in London in the late 1500s.

Strawberries were first included in a recipe for “strawberry cake” in a Columbus, Ohio, newspaper in June 1845. Then, the recommendation was to cover the berries with a hard sugar-and-egg white icing.

Mary Todd Lincoln held strawberry parties in Springfield, Illinois, to rally supporters to her husband’s cause. And she chose a gown covered with embroidered strawberries for her portrait as First Lady. See it here.

Of late, there’s been considerable attention given to the need for social contact, so to celebrate strawberry season, skip the strawberry bath and go to Monday Munch at the Charlotte Senior Center. Enjoy strawberry shortcake along with conversations with friendly people.

Noting the Charlotte Senior Center advisory board’s “reach out” to our community children, two new books that celebrate the Monday Munch dessert have been added to the Little Free Library for Kids at the Charlotte Grange, 2858 Spear Street.

“Cook-a-Doddle-Doo” picks up where the Little Red Hen left off. Her great-grandson is hungry. Tired of eating chicken feed every day, he finds “The Little Red Hen’s” cookbook and decides to make strawberry shortcake.

In “The First Strawberries,” award-winning Native American storyteller Joseph Bruchac retells the Cherokee legend explaining how strawberries came to be, accompanied by acclaimed illustrations.

Enjoy “Strawberry Fields Forever”.

Monday Munch, July 8: To be announced. Check the senior center website.