It seems like an easy enough question. When I saw the word “horseshoes” on a menu in Springfield, however, I was stumped.
Many different regions have delicacies for which they are known. You’ll never have a better pork tenderloin sandwich than one in Iowa. Philly has its cheese steak sandwiches and Chicago has deep dish pizza.
Some specialties are less well known. I didn’t know Santa Maria was famous for tri-tip beef until I visited my sister in Central California. When Ed and I were driving in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, billboards for pasties had us wondering. And we never did try the boiled peanuts we saw advertised in North Carolina.
As they say, when in Rome…so I ordered a hamburger horseshoe for lunch. What I got was a piece of white, toasted bread with a hamburger patty on top, covered with crispy French fries and topped with cheddar cheese sauce. I am a sucker for cheese fries, so this “horseshoe” was a dream come true!
Of course, as soon as I had wifi, I had to look up the origins of the horseshoe. It didn’t look like a horseshoe, so why was it called a horseshoe? The horseshoe was invented in Springfield in the early 1900’s. It was originally served on a warm metal plate, which was the “anvil.” The bread was toasted with thinly pieces of sliced bone-in ham. These pieces of ham were shaped like a “horseshoe” after being cut off the bone, and the name of this open-faced sandwich was born. The ham was covered with tangy cheese sauce, and then eight wedges of potato, the “nails,” where placed around the sandwich.
I saved a copy of the cheese sauce recipe, and I’m going to try making horseshoes for dinner sometime soon. I don’t have any metal plates, however; I think they’ll taste just as good on my Crate & Barrel dishes.
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