Eat like a Holden Caulfield: Swiss Cheese Sandwich and Malted Milk

Do you want to know something embarrassing? I mean something really embarrassing? It took me approximately 24 years to finally get around to reading The Catcher in the Rye. J.D. Salinger is probably living in a cabin in the woods crying about this, right?

Probably not.

Still, I regret not reading this book when I was a teenager. What would I have thought about Holden? Would I be annoyed, amused, confused, or in love? This is a book to read during each stage of your life if you’re interested in seeing how your perceptions and opinions have developed. When I read Catcher this past year, I was amused by Holden Caulfield. I could definitely sense the obnoxious millennial hipster vibe in him, but here’s the thing — he’s just a 17 year old living in the early 1950’s and WERE THERE EVEN HIPSTERS BACK THEN?! Did Salinger know there would be a bunch of 20-somethings walking around Brooklyn in the year 2014 acting and looking like Holden?! It’s fascinating, really.


Okay, okay, okay. Onto the food. That’s why we’re all here, right? Looking through old notes I took while reading the book, I had the following jotted down: “No food mentions so far…Holden just tries to buy drinks (alcoholic) a lot, but ends up with a coke. Bad steak mentioned in the dining hall in the beginning. I don’t want to cook steak though so let’s just ignore that.” However, I finally struck gold on page 107 of my old 75cent copy of this novel. That’s Chapter 15 for the rest of you. Holden sits down in a sandwich bar and decides to have a breakfast of orange juice, bacon, eggs, toast, and coffee. Food! That’s food! But as much as I love making breakfast food, I decided to go with Holden’s typical meal that he describes shortly after. He says, ”When I’m out somewhere, I generally just eat a swiss cheese sandwich and a malted milk. It isn’t much, but you get quite a lot of vitamins in the malted milk. H. V. Caulfield. Holden Vitamin Caulfield”. Gold! Pure gold! I can make a swiss cheese sandwich. I can totally do that. In fact, I can so totally do that and even bake the bread myself. And throw in cucumbers and ketchup. I can even pour a glass of milk. (Not malted milk, because what even is that? The 1950’s were weird.)

So, I now present you with the swiss cheese sandwich and milk I prepared in order to recreate this typical Holden Caulfield meal for you all. You can do this too. It’s so easy, I promise. I used this bread recipe, and the rest is easy as pie — or, a swiss sandwich. Although looking back on this now, I really should have used a recipe for RYE bread, huh?


Grab a copy of Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and see for yourself how you’ll like it. Sure, it’s over-hyped. But there’s always a reason for over-hyped books, and I’m always curious about how I’ll react to such phenomenons. If you’ve already read it, tell me what you thought. If you’ve read it multiple times, tell me how your opinion of the book changed throughout the years.

If you want more to read, check out Salinger, the recent biography on the man himself, as well as My Salinger Year, a fascinating memoir by his old assistant Joanna Rakoff. Both are highly recommended and reviewed. That’s always a good sign, I’m told.

I’d love to hear your comments on Salinger, Holden Caulfield, and the Catcher in the Rye below. And please, feel free to leave book suggestions for the next post on Devour Your Books!

Enjoy the week ahead, and don’t be a phony.