The Celluloid Pantry: Domestic Policy and The Odd Couple (1968)

The Celluloid Pantry: Domestic Policy and The Odd Couple (1968)

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Maxwell Ryan
May 24, 2006

"I got, uh, brown sandwiches and, uh, green sandwiches. Which one do you want? …It's either very new cheese or very old meat."

One half of The Odd Couple (1968), Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau) is "divorced, broke, and sloppy." His refrigerator has been out of order for two weeks, and the sandwiches he serves up at his Friday night poker game show it. The air in the apartment is close, and one of the guys recognizes the same blackening banana peel on the floor from the week before. And then there are the phone calls: too many pricey breakfasts, lunches, and dinners out have put Oscar behind on his alimony.

This all changes when the neurotically neat Felix Ungar (Jack Lemmon) moves in, transforming Oscar's life—beginning with his kitchen. Just separated from his wife, Felix needs a place to stay, and busily sets about cleaning and rearranging the eight-room apartment. He makes BLTs for the next poker game, and serves them from a trolley with cloth napkins and china plates. But it's a little too much of a good thing: while the food gets raves, Felix's constant interruptions, nagging, and shots of air freshener don't. "I'm not giving up my Friday nights to watch cooking and cleaning," Oscar growls. Even the playing cards smell of disinfectant.

An Oscar, or a Felix, which would you prefer? Like brown sandwiches and green sandwiches, it's hard to choose.

BLTs, Felix's Way

• Bacon (we prefer the Yves and Lightlife veggie versions)

• Lettuce (use "the soft green part" only—Boston lettuce would work well here)

• Ripe tomato, sliced

• Mayonnaise ("not too much!")

• 2 slices pumpernickel bread, toasted ("with the crusts cut off")

• Fry the bacon until lightly crisp (if using veggie, cook in olive oil) and drain on paper toweling. Remove crusts from the toast, and spread mayonnaise on one slice. Assemble sandwich bacon first, then tomato, then lettuce. Slice sandwich on the diagonal, and garnish each half with a green pimento-stuffed olive on a toothpick. Serve with a slice of pickle on the side.

- Nora

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