Friday, May 20, 2016

Sandwiches--How American Can We Get?

I grew up on sandwiches, namely baloney and peanut butter, not together, separate.   Mother always presented our sandwiches with the crusts cut off.  One day I was the "mother" for a day for my tiny sister. In our kitchen we had an enamel cabinet with a flat counter. Sis was as tall as the counter. She put her hands on the knobs of a drawer underneath, her eyes level with the counter, watching me as I made her a meat sandwich.  First was the mayo, followed by a slice of baloney. Now for the crusts.  I picked up a knife quite large for the job and began to imitate Mother's cutting job.  Only after one side's crust was removed, I began on another. The knife slipped  across the enamel and slid into Sis' eye.  I had the presence of mind to call the lady in the upstairs apartment to help.  No bleeding, just a crying kid. Fortunately, we got her to the doctor who put a pad over her eye and eyedrops to us for a few weeks. Today she has better eyesight than I. is a weekly site I subscribe to that discusses sandwiches.  Americans today are sandwich happy. From the lowly, poor man's lunch to the staple of America, specifically sandwiches like the sub, the po'boy, the breakfast sandwich, cheese sandwich  and others have evolved into a staple of the American diet. Then the all-famous-well-known sandwich, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is cited:

 "Like the sandwich itself, the peanut butter & jelly is a complex culinary stroke, masquerading as a simple dish. And like America, its true power lies not only in what it is, but what it represents. So the next time you bite into a PB&J, salute the stars and stripes, think about your childhood, and just try not to shed a patriotic tear along the way. This is America. And this is our sandwich."  

I can't imagine any kid who hastn't tasted a PB&J.  In my day and time the acronym was never used.  We asked for peanut butter and jelly.  My daughter for some reason as an elementary student would only eat PB&Js for meals other than breakfast.  When she visited friends, I warned the mothers not to expect J to enjoy the home-made meals, as she is addicted to peanut butter and jelly.  (I, also, slipped around and cut the edges of all sandwiches for her and her brothers.)

In our local paper  our food expert from Hattiesburg Robert St. John spoke about "uncrustables" in his family. I knew what he was talking about.  He said his mom made PB&J sandwiches with crusts removed, cut them in half, and put them in a freezer bag to be taken out in the mornings for lunch boxes.  Adults also dropped a couple of frozen sandwiches before going fishing or hunting.  

I wish my mother were here to enjoy the article. She was often ridiculed for making "tea" sandwiches for my lunch. I thought this was her way to entice us to eat.  Now I think she was passing down a custom of her own mother's. Rather than her making a "I-told- you-so" remark, she'd have smiled.