Friday, August 10, 2012

Make a Sandwich

  This post began with a simple request.
  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 think know I take sandwiches for granted. It is not grandiose. It is not a dish slaved over for hours. A sandwich aroma does not waft through a home, causing mouths to water. No. The sandwich has been reduced to quickness and economy. Subway provides a case study to this marketing. The company even refers to their employees as "Sandwich Artisans."
  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.


  1. I also lick the knife...But anyway, Brian makes my lunch almost everyday. And almost everyday it contains a sandwich. I agree with you. It does show love. :)

  2. I made you a killer tuna sandwich today! And who knows what wonders we'll make with that marble rye we picked up at the store this afternoon...

  3. Came across y'all's blog today via facebook. I know it will be a favorite because you both write so beautifully! This post is genius. I cried. (By the way, I too am a knife licker!...well, when I make one for my family anyway) I LOVE to make my kids school lunches, especially their sandwiches! I feel like I am taking better care of them as they go off to school for most of the day. I also feel so very spoiled when Casey, every once in awhile, will make me my favorite pb&j sandwich. It's such a sweet gesture. Thank you for putting this act into words so eloquently!