3-3. Ladies Bridge Lunch: Della Lutes’ book Bridge Food for Bridge Fans

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If you’re a cookbook collector you may know of Della Lutes and her classic Country Kitchen?  Bridge Food for Bridge Fans could not be more different–this is Della having fun–with bridge, with bridge players, at a time (1932) when bridge was at the height of its fad craze in America.

Here’s the epigraph for her book on bridge:

We may live without money–to have is to spend it;
We may live without credit–we don’t have to lend it;
We may live without wooing–to woo is to wed–
But bridge-playing people must always be fed.

This is a book for both ladies only and couples bridge entertaining. There are suppers and 11th hour “afterbridge” snacks for couples. Her Afterbridge Tea menus are more like classic ladies lunch than her luncheon/supper menus.

In my book I list the 13 Classics for entertaining at bridge. Here’s Della’s bridge menus featuring two of those classics–the frosted sandwich loaf and a ladies bridge lunch entirely of tea sandwiches and “oddments” of this and that.

Salad Sandwich Loaf
Sweet Gherkins   Olives
Rhubarb Sauce   Vanilla Wafers   Tea/Coffee

Slice a long loaf of unsliced sandwich bread horizontally into 3 or 4 slices. Spread with softened butter and two or three fillings, then frost (like a layer cake) with a half pound of cream cheese softened for spreadabilty. Slice in one-inch (or more) slices. Della specifies for her three layers: pimento cheese softened with cream; chopped hard-cooked eggs and green pepper with mayonnaise; thinly sliced tomatoes and mayo.

I assume rhubarb sauce is simply stewed rhubarb. Personally, when I used to cook it for my husband years ago, I steamed it in sugar syrup in a double boiler, without stirring. That way it looks as good as it tastes.

Oddment menus usually included at least two kinds of tea sandwiches, sweet and savory along with “little cakes”–nuts and candies–olives, radishes, celery–et cetera.  Here’s a few of Della’s savory fillings, always chopped fine and moistened with something to hold it together: chicken and salted almonds; ham and hard-cooked egg with mustard pickles; salmon and cucumber; roast beef and  horseradish.

Sweet sandwiches could be either sweet fillings, or just butter or cream cheese on sweet breads. Fillings: cabbage and pineapple; diced orange and cottage cheese; preserved ginger, nuts, lemon, ginger syrup; peanut butter and anything; guava jelly on nutbread.

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