Elvis sandwich

fat Gordon BrownOn hearing yet more government waffle about obesity (surely a delicious, cinnamon sugar-dusted waffle) on the radio yesterday morning, I felt moved to action. Especially when Gordon Brown announced that access to the NHS should be rationed for the fat. This seems somewhat hypocritical. Gordon Brown’s own flabby udders are usually concealed by a well-cut suit, but do spare a moment to compare his wobbling great jowls with those of the undeniably fat Vegas-era Elvis, who has been much on my mind recently, it being his birthday yesterday. (Elvis is the one a bit lower down on the right, in case there was any confusion).  I have been kind here. This was not the least flattering photo of Gordon I could find.

Vegas ElvisThe obese pay as much National Insurance as you or I do, and conditional access to a service that we all pay for is a truly alarming idea – my guess is that Gordon’s trying to make sure the NHS reaches its targets by ensuring it has no patients at all. Only last month, the House of Lords, which surely has better things to do with its time, had a debate on restricting the sale of thick-sliced bread so that our packed lunches are less fattening. What better way, I thought, to stick two fingers up at the lot of the buggers, than to use some thick-sliced bread to make one of Elvis Presley’s favourite, most deadly sandwiches – and to encourage you to too?

Elvis was a man of huge appetites. He was particularly big (if you’ll pardon the pun) on very large, very calorific sandwiches involving peanut butter. Legend has it that when visiting Denver, he ordered 22 Fool’s Gold sandwiches from the Colorado Mine Company restaurant (now closed) to be delivered to his aeroplane for the trip home. These sandwiches cost $49.50 each back in 1976. Each one was made from a single French loaf, hollowed out and rubbed generously with margarine. The greasy loaf was coated with peanut butter, baked until the bread was crisp and the peanut butter runny, then adorned with a pound of crisp bacon and a whole jar of grape jelly.

A single Fool’s Gold sandwich rocks up at more than 9000 calories.

I decided not to recreate the Fool’s Gold sandwich, because it seemed a sure-fire route to an untimely death on the toilet. Back at Graceland, however, a favourite snack (snack!) was the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, which comes in at a relatively modest 750 calories. I used the canonical recipe, which uses an unholy amount of butter, as described by Mary Jenkins Langston, Elvis’s own cook. Now, I am a fan of peanut butter, of white bread, of bananas and of butter. But I have to tell you that I wasn’t able to eat a whole one, and that as I write this I am feeling distinctly unwell and am clutching at a glass of Alka Seltzer.

peanut butter and banana sandwichThis is largely because of the huge amount of butter that goes into this sandwich – two US sticks of the stuff (that’s eight ounces) for every three sandwiches. As Mary herself said, Elvis was very, very keen on using other substances as a mere vehicle for gallons and gallons of good old fat:

”For breakfast, he’d have homemade biscuits fried in butter, sausage patties, four scrambled eggs and sometimes fried bacon,” she said. “I’d bring the tray up to his room, he’d say, ‘This is good, Mary.’ He’d have butter running down his arms.”

Of the sandwich, she said:

”It’d be just floating in butter. You’d turn it and turn it and turn it until all the butter was soaked up; that’s when he liked it.”

It wasn’t drugs that killed Elvis. It was Mary’s cooking.

To make one sandwich (do not, under any circumstances, attempt to eat the whole thing yourself, because you’ll make yourself sick) you’ll need:

1 large banana
2 slices white bread
Peanut butter
2½ oz butter

banana sandwichToast the bread lightly, and spread both slices thickly (I know, I know, but Mary says ‘thickly’, so thickly is how I am spreading) with peanut butter. Slice the banana into coins and layer them on top of one peanut-slathered slice of bread, then put the other on top, pressing so the whole thing sticks together.

Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan or cast-iron skillet and heat it until it foams. Slide the sandwich in and fry it, turning frequently (important, this turning, or else you will end up with a hunk-a hunk-a burning sandwich) for about five minutes, until the centre is heated through and the lake of butter absorbed.

Eat with a knife and fork, a glass of antacid, and intimations of mortality.

12 Replies to “Elvis sandwich”

  1. Bloody Gordon. Grr.

    This may be some sort of a ‘two nations separated by a common language’ thing, but I have to ask: how in the world do you fry a biscuit? Surely it has already been baked? I’ve been eyeing up a pan, some butter and a packet of Hobnobs, but I just can’t work that one out. Poor Elvis: no wonder the food finished him off.

    Happy New Year, by the way!

  2. You’re right – it’s another US/UK English problem. In American English, a biscuit is a sort of scone thing (a Hob Nob is a cookie).

    That said, there is no way you should be frying *either* sort of biscuit in its own weight of butter. Inevitable death on the toilet and all that.

    (And a very happy new year to you too!)

  3. “The obese pay as much National Insurance as you or I do, and conditional access to a service that we all pay for is a truly alarming idea”

    Agreed. And where it is all going to end? Do you want to be barred from treatment if you incurred it playing tennis or going skiing? Lifestyle choice!

    And what doesn’t help is that it’s fuelled by the idea of choice, that people choose their body size.

    I assume that this must be because people imagine how much food it would take them to get to a very large size, and then they assume that that’s what fat people must be eating. It’s not true. As your Elvis experiments show, it’s very difficult to force yourself to eat much more than your body will permit, and likewise it’s difficult to consistently eat less than your body is urging you to do (with hunger signals), just as it’s difficult to consistently underbreathe.

    People use this idea of a choice to justify poor treatment of fat people and saving money on the NHS.

    Well let me tell you that it’s not a choice. When you have the same lifestyle as the person next to you that you’re more than 50% heavier than, that’s not a choice, that’s a body fundamentally built in a different way.

    And scientific studies show this time and time again. Exercise can affect weight by a few pounds, but not a substantial amount for the average person long term. Different food choices can affect weight by a few pounds, but not a substantial amount long term for the average person.

    The irony is that all this energy is expended trying to hate and punish fat people, when good food choices and regular exercise can do so much good. More energy, better health, more strength, more flexibility, many many benefits come from treating bodies well.

    But do they think of that? If they really cared about the health of people, they’d be doing things like discounts for exercise facilities. But no, they don’t care about health, all they can do is cling to the diet+exercise myth and condemn and punish fat people.

    Thank you for decrying these anti-fat-people policies.

  4. You’ve just made me rush off and go looking for ‘Are You Hungry Tonight?’, a compilation of Elvis’ favourite recipes (a present from a friend who understands my love of kitsch). And yes, the peanut butter/banana sandwich is in there – along side a pic of a youthful, slimline Elvis.

    ‘As a basis for a good, hearty lunch, or even as an energy-based snack, nothing can beat this crunchy grilled sandwich.’

    Nothing, that is, except that sickly feeling induced after trying to eat more than half of one.

  5. Did you know that by scoffing such gems as the Fool’s Gold sandwich – in fact, several of them between meals – The King actually ate literally more than an elephant?

    Elvis. Too young to die. Too fat to live.

    PS A / S / L? Psst wanna cyber? etc etc

  6. I wonder whether figures are available on the calorific content of prime ministerial bogies, and how many you’d need to equal an elephant? (Those who are not sure why we are now talking about bogies should watch this gem from PMQs, but not while eating.)

  7. But you’ve admitted in public to *fancying* the thundering great belter. I will assume the udders were neutralised by the lust-tinted specs you were wearing.

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