Have you, or anyone you know, ever eaten a cucumber sandwich? I don’t just mean cucumber in bread. I mean a real posh cucumber sandwich, crusts removed, immaculately buttered and cut in delicate lengths?
I could be wrong but I think I recall these types of sandwiches floating around on trays following Communions and Confirmations, but they may have had egg mayonnaise, as well as being cut into triangles.
In the first act of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, cucumber sandwiches that have been ordered and prepared for Lady Bracknell’s visit are all eaten beforehand by her nephew Algernon.
The popularity of the cucumber sandwich reached its apex in the Edwardian period due to cheap labour and plentiful coal which allowed cucumbers to be produced in hotbeds under glasshouses year round.
Though cucumber originated in India, they have been in Britain (and most likely Ireland) since the 14th century.
Cucumber and whipped goat’s curd on rye
Perhaps one of my favourite sandwiches is the open Danish sandwich called smørrebrød. Summers in Copenhagen are usually filled with trying to find the best smørrebrød establishment. Are they Denmark's answer to Spain's tapas? Restaurant Barr, housed in the former Noma location and part-owned by René Redzepi, puts their own wonderful twist on traditional smørrebrød. Simply put, it's an open rye bread sandwich. I think our own Irish version would be the open crab sandwich on soda bread.
Slice your cucumbers lengthways with a mandolin and lightly salt them. Lightly butter the rye bread. Curl the cucumber strips and arrange on top of the bread. Whip up some St Tola goat’s curd and put into a piping bag. Pipe the goat’s cheese on and around the cucumber. Finish with a little freshly cracked black pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and a nice fresh green herb such as wood sorrel or chervil. Though they’re far from traditional cucumber sandwiches, I think you’ll feel as posh.