A Hoagie Straight from Heaven

I never quite know what to expect when my email inbox shows that I have a message from my friend Larry (aka SquarePants). He has a an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure (and sometimes obscene) literary, philosophical, and historical facts. He can be wickedly funny or earnestly serious – usually it’s the former. In either case, he’s always enlightening and he never fails to get my attention.

So it was with some trepidation that I opened his recent email with the subject heading A Sandwich Straight from Heaven – Garden & Gun. His message:

The link he included made it look like the recipe appeared in a web site for a magazine entitled Garden and Gun. Right! Surely he was pulling my leg about a magazine with such a title. As it turns out, both the magazine and the “divinely inspired hoagie sandwich” were not figments of his perverse imagination.

Garden & Gun, I discovered, is not some backwoodsy, esoteric publication. It’s a glossy and evidently quite successful magazine that was first published in 2007 by Rebecca Darwin, a former publisher of The New Yorker and Mirabella. According to a NY Times review when the magazine first came out, critics found the “Gun” in the title to be off-putting. However, Rebecca Darwin defended her publication’s title.

… Ms. Darwin, who had 20 years of publishing experience in New York before returning to her South Carolina roots, said she was confident of the magazine’s appeal. “There are 40 million people that enjoy hunting and fishing; when you get outside of New York City, there is a whole other world out there.

Evidently I’m not a part of that “whole other world out there” nor for that matter are any of the folks I hang our with here in Glen Ellen. But according to the 2021 publisher’s statement over 400,000 souls subscribe to Garden & Gun. That’s even more than the number of subscribers to BigLittleMeals!

But let’s get back on topic and to the genesis of the heavenly sandwich (or hoagie), which is what Jed Portman’s Garden and Gun piece entitled The Sandwich Straight from Heaven is all about. In his article we find out that the “straight from heaven” part was not just a figure of speech; it was quite literal. Portman explains that Al Hodges, the creator of the sandwich,

…heard the voice in Reidsville, Georgia, in January of 1984.
What this town needs is a sandwich shop, it said.
It was the sort of thing the recently reborn entrepreneur took seriously.
“I didn’t have the funds, but I said, ‘God, if this is you, then you will provide it for me.’”

You can get still get a Manna Hoagie at Hoody’s Hoagies in Claxton, GA

According to the story, within eight months Hodges had secured a loan and was ready to open the first of the half-dozen sandwich shops that he eventually ran. He decided his signature sandwich would be named Manna – “the sweet food from heaven that once nourished the wandering Israelites.”

“The morning we opened, I still didn’t know what (the manna sandwich) would be,” Hodges says. He prayed. God, if you’re not going to show me the ingredients, I’m just going to do the best I can… then that voice broke the silence again.…. “I was given all of the ingredients that are supposed to go in a manna sandwich,” he says. “It was simple as that. I just started putting them in, and the recipe hasn’t changed since.”

In the below recipe you can see the sacred ingredients God instructed Hodges to use (did God really prefer Kikkoman’s soy sauce?). The recipe will also give you an opportunity for a firsthand culinary excursion into that “other world out there” without having to leave the security of your home. Or, you can make a Manna Hoagie and take it on your next trap shooting excursion.

But before posting the recipe, I have one more tidbit to share – it’s Larry’s follow-up email to me regarding the heaven-inspired hoagie:

With that said, here’s the recipe. Enjoy

Manna Hoagies

  • Servings: makes 6 6-inch hoagies
  • Print

Adapted from a recipe by Al and Houston Hodges of Hoody’s Hoagies in Claxton, Georgia. This recipe makes more sauce than needed for just one round of manna sandwiches, but the extra sauce can be frozen for future use.

1 C mayonnaise
1/2 C Catalina or French dressing
1/4 C plus 2 T ketchup
1/4 C spicy brown mustard, preferably Gulden’s
2 T sugar
1/2 C diced onion
1/4 C soy sauce, preferably Kikkoman’s
1 T dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 lb. ground chuck
1/4 lb. Swiss cheese
6 6-inch hoagie rolls

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Dice the onion and add it to a skillet over high heat with ¼ cup of water and soy sauce. Add herbs and garlic powder and cook for 5 minutes, or until liquid is mostly reduced. Add beef and continue to simmer until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain off fat.

Split the rolls. Slather them with sauce, and put cheese on top. Place them under the broiler until cheese melts, 1-2 minutes. Heap ground beef on each sandwich and serve.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

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