I Say CHICKEN SALAD you say chicken salad

Chicken Salad Sandwich with Lays Chips

The words are the same, chicken salad, but what we visualize when we say them are different images.  My chicken salad is chunky chicken with light mayonnaise and chopped grapes, celery, and a sprinkling of nuts.  Other people prefer an old-style chicken sandwich with ground chicken mixed with mayonnaise.  Who’s right?  Of course we both are plus so are the hundreds of variations on this lunchtime staple.

Ancient Chicken Salad Sandwich History

1930 photo chicken salad sandwich I started my search for the perfect chicken salad in a cookbook from 1930 devoted solely to sandwiches.  There are seven chicken salad recipes include:  Chicken Hash au gratin, Chicken a la King, Chicken Mushroom, Chicken Salad Finger, Chicken Salad Molded, Chicken Ritz and finally Chicken Sandwich Toasted.

I fudged a bit; the Chicken Ritz isn’t really a salad, its ground white meat of cooked chicken placed in a sauté pan with butter and heated, adding enough raw cream to moisten.  After cooking for about five minutes the chicken, now more a paste, is spread on toast, sprinkled with paprika and butter then browned under a broiler.  Yum?

Peanut Butter and Pickles…oh my

The author of this 30s cookbook noted that “A sandwich in the hands of a real cook becomes a masterpiece – in the hands of a plodder a fizzle.”    Oh dear, I’m pretty sure Mr. Shircliffee would not approve of my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  To confirm that thought I checked the book’s index for peanut butter.  PB Sandwich I is peanut butter on a leaf of lettuce between 2 slices of white bread finally garnished on top with a fanned gherkin.  PB Sandwich II is chopped fine green olives and sweet gherkins whipped into peanut butter and spread on thin slices of white bread.  Call me whatever you want, I’m not even going to try either of those delicacies.  I have now firmly closed that book and shoved it to the back of the bookshelf.

My Chicken Salad Journey

But I have wandered – let’s get back to chicken salad.  In my youth what I ate was a combination of the two extremes, chunky yet bland.  It was pieces of chicken, probably pulled from the leftovers of last night’s dinner, mixed with mayonnaise, yellow mustard, salt and pepper.  The years passed and it was the 80s and I was an adult before I ever ate chicken salad with grapes.  I was hooked.

Arbys apple pecan chicken salad sandwich Too much typing not enough eating.   I’m hungry and I’m heading to Arby’s for lunch – their apple, pecan chicken salad sandwich is back on the menu.  If I’m patient I’ll bring the sandwich home and stir in a bit of curry, if not well it’s my sandwich and I’ll enjoy it.

As a taste test on my way to Arby’s I also stopped by a local sandwich shop and bought one of their traditional chicken salad sandwiches.  Two different tastes, both were good. What’s your preference – do you like chunky with fruit and nuts or the traditional finely chopped? Let me know your favorite.

Now it’s nap time.

2 kittens taking a nap

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