Laying in bed, in pain from carrying a baby for nine months, Hilary asked, "Can you do me a favor? Can you make me a peanut butter sandwich, with apricot preserve?" A simple task, which I undertook with a firm resolve. I reached into the pantry, and found the off brand creamy peanut butter and wheat bread. I spread the peanut butter a little thick, because I believed Hil likes it that way. I opened the fridge, and retrieved the apricot jam. It was behind the strawberry preserve, and was a little difficult to open. But once open, I spread the chunky, sweet apricot jam on the other piece of bread. I tried to spread apart the apricot bits, so it would be even across the plane. I failed. Finally, I placed the two pieces together, and studied them for a moment. The sandwich looked off on the saucer plate, a little too large. Thinking back to my youth, I cut it diagonally, and placing the two halves on top of each other, I presented the sandwich to Hilary.
(As a unnecessary confession, I admit to using the same knife for all the above steps. Peanut butter contaminated jam, or would have, if I had not licked the knife. The same goes for the cutting. Now, before any of you condemn me for being "gross," or "uncouth," I would ask you to become introspective, just for a moment. How many of you have licked the knife? Don't lie to yourself, and don't throw me under the culinary bus.)
Perhaps I am becoming more sentimental during this time: I've heard the anxiety of becoming a parent does this to people. Yet, making Hilary's sandwich caused me to think of countless other sandwiches in my life. The lunches my mom prepared for me during grade school. I never fully appreciated them. Sure, there were quick "Thanks," but that was it. Sometimes I complained because we only had peanut butter or tuna fish. If memory serves it up truthfully (and 9 out of 10 times, it doesn't), I whined to get lunch meat, probably Butterball. I was, and still am, a child of advertising. I won a few times, but that did not change the gratitude level.
A sandwich, after all, is simple. A minimum of one bread slice, some filling, and eat. I
There is some truth in Subway's employee handle. There is an art in sandwich making, but it isn't found in the squirting of chipotle sauce. I dare say it isn't in the quality of ingredients, although I do enjoy Boar Head's more than most brands, and fresh baked sourdough over store bought Wonderbread. I submit that sandwich making artistry is found in the act, in the simplicity of preparation. Preparing a sandwich takes little training, but there are lessons I am just now unpacking and appreciating.
Primarily, I have learned that sandwiches make a perfect vehicle to show your love for someone. My mom did not make sandwiches day after day because she needed to. She had taught me to prepare food. I believe she made them because it was a way for her to show love. I felt that same devotion as I cut Hilary's sandwich diagonally tonight. Sandwiches are just one thing I look forward to making with my children.
As this post began with a request, so it will end with a request. You could call it a challenge, but that sounds condescending. Calling it National Make a Sandwich Day is beyond the scope of these thoughts, and frankly makes more of the idea than is really there. Invitation sounds better, so let's go with that. I invite you, whoever you are, to take time, and make a sandwich for someone. It could be a spouse, a child, boyfriend, girlfriend, roommate, whoever. Just make a sandwich. If you want, tell them you care, or just let the food talk for you. Leave a comment, detailing the sandwich (what was on it), and your thoughts while preparing it. Hilary and I look forward to reading your comments.