I am brought back to a time when I was a young boy and my mother used to pack my lunches for school. It was in the mid 90s in southern Florida that I chased my adolescence. There was nearly always a sandwich accompanied by a pudding or a “jell-O” pack tucked away neatly in my Disney lunchbox. Amongst these two powerhouses were usually a variety of other things (it all depended on what we had at home as we weren’t the wealthiest household on the block) including grapes and potato chips to last nights potato salad. If I was lucky, I got a juice box and a fruit roll up. I knew that I didn’t have the most elaborate lunch everyday. Hell, some days I had to take the two dollars my mother and father had and by a school lunch. Those were ugly.
At this time, there was almost an even split between those with packed lunches and those who ate the cafeteria food. The divide was mostly made by the socio-economic differences between the families of the students. The less fortunate students had to eat the cafeteria food under what little allowance their parents could afford. In some cases, they couldn’t afford much and were allotted a food card by the school which paid for their cafeteria lunches up to a certain cost. The more fortunate children had their meals packed high and deep (turkey sandwiches with the works: lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, whole grain bread etc) with homemade everything. I was somewhere in the grey matter on this one. My parents were not wealthy but were always able to provide something.
My mother’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich.. It was no Turkey Club or Monte Cristo with all of their intricacies but I remember taking this out of my box and always enjoying it. On one such occasion, my friend David (who was often forced to eat the school lunch) told me how his mother forgot to give him lunch money. I understood that I should give him something. I handed him half of my sandwich and let him finish my grapes. The look on his face as he bit into my mother’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich was pure perfection.
“This is really good!” he said. “When my mom makes these, it sticks to my mouth. How does your mom make them?”
The second that question was asked, I knew two things: first was that I could tell him that my mother puts a thin spread of mayonnaise on the bread before anything else (this is what kept the peanut butter from sticking to his mouth), second, I could tell him “I don’t know (this of course being a lie as I can still visualize my mother diligently making these sandwiches for my brother and I).”
On that day, I learned a Chef’s code with no thought of the matter: You can share your family’s food but their recipes are for family only!
This is one of the fond food memories that transports me to a place where my current knowledge of food and “food law” were derived.. unconsciously.
For nearly five years now I have been working in kitchens from Florida and Seattle in my goals to become a chef. This blog is for my creative freedom to be expressed in my two favorite ways: food and word.