Friday, October 7, 2011

The Best Food Memories Are Often Torture

        Being a chef it is easy to say food is one of the most important aspects of my life. Almost every moment I am thinking of something to do with it. Often I am unable to sleep because of it. Ideas pop in and out of consciousness as I lay in bed at night. This is a huge contributor to the fact I cannot sleep.

         The other day I was watching a show on netflix that has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, The Andy Griffith Show. Just like some of my favorite dishes it is a simple show and while watching an episode I remembered something from early childhood that only cemented in my head that I was meant to cook.

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         I was running around the house early, it was about nine am, I was superman saving the world in a cape my grand mother made for me. The cape in question was baby blue with a red glitter "S" in the middle of it, the colors were wrong but I didn't care. The worlds problems did not quit just because my cape was the wrong color, truth be told if my cape could not get me there my trusty car Kit could. Breakfast time was over and after eating my weight in french toast I was fully able to stop the dastardly and nefarious deeds of Lex Luther, my huge stuffed carnival bear.
       Apparently he was trying to poison the popcorn supply as I had gave him a bag and tied it to his hands. Popcorn was easily one of my favorite snacks as a kid and actually a point of contention between me and my parents. A few months earlier I had fed him some and chewing it in his mouth it had actually vanished, probably due to the fact that it fell out or was crushed into the seam of his mouth, but to me it meant he was alive and popcorn made it so. To my parents the pile of crushed corn on the floor of the basement was proof to as where the popcorn had actually went. But what did mere mortals know of such matters. This meant that from then on every scheme I involved him in he always had the life giving popcorn with him.
      Several hours had passed as we had moved on through a progression of stalemates, my interest were waning in the matter. It was almost noon and I was hungry. I went upstairs and entered the normal world. Mom had made Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup and ham and cheese sandwiches. Ohh, the majesty of simplistic youth pleasures. While eating the phone had rang and mom answered it, it was dad calling from work during his lunch break which was odd.
     What made it odder still was he asked for me. I was excited to say the least. I rushed to the phone, cape still on while Lex planned in the basement a way to destroy me once and for all, I cannot remember the whole conversation but the gist of it was that he was making sure I was behaving.  I assured him I was and that I had no plans to act otherwise. But as for Lex's plans I could not be sure. He chuckled and asked what I would like for dinner, lasagna or pizza I yelled.
      He laughed again and asked how about something new and amazingly good. I intrigued emphatically answered yes. Dad paused for a second and said excellent. He started talking about this amazing sandwich and how after I had it, it would be my all time favorite sandwich in the world. I was excited to say the least and asked what kind it was, Nickel he said.
 
   After lunch I returned downstairs, while singing the Nickel Sandwich Song I had just created, Lex was resting in the corner and I was no longer interested in our battle, the promise of the new had swayed me. I picked some toys out of the toy box dad had made for me and proceeded to kill the five hours in between.
Time was drawing close as I went upstairs to get something to drink and I noticed mom was cooking. I asked her why as dad was bringing nickel sandwiches and she just chuckled shook her head and said only for me was he bringing them. Thirty minutes were left before he would get home so I waited impatiently leaning against the screen door of the garage. Every motor of a passing vehicle caused a flutter in my heart and a rumble in my stomach.
  
    I imagined sitting at the table across from him and unwrapping the white butchers paper, which all great sandwiches came packed in according to me. Listening to the paper crinkle as I unfolded it, and the gleam in my fathers eyes as he watched me in my anxious fidgeting I would do when really excited a smile would cross his face. I thought about how the buttery bread would chew being slightly tough and crispy then seeming to evaporate in a tender fluffy sensation. The mayo would add a creamy nature to the whole experience and I would be in heaven the whole time, my father watching me eat the blissful creation he lovingly brought me. Or at least so I thought, after all I had never had this sandwich before and only could speculate as to what I thought made a amazing sandwich.

   Time had passed and dad pulled up in his blue Chevelle, opened the door and walked to the garage. He came inside clutching his black plastic lunch box. I remember at times opening it and it smelled of all the meals packed before. He smirked at me as he watched my eyes transfixed on the lunch box. I followed him upstairs, sat at the dinner table, and began my fidgeting. He sat down looked as me and asked what I was so excited about. Nickel sandwich I proclaimed, he seemed confused by this and said ok well then.

  He pulled the black box toward him released the two silver clasps and opened the Lid. As he opened it he asked me to come to him. I stepped closer, his hand reached inside the lunch box never seeming to reach the bottom. As he looked to be struggling to lift the sandwich from its confines he beg me closer and I went, too short to see into the box just above my head, his eyes were beaming and the smirk forming on his face was immense. I peered up at him, he just looked down at me pulled the sandwich out and then it hit me..

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  To say that this is one of my fondest food memories is, perplexing to me at times. To say that when I think that this is one of the major instances of how food plays an important role in my life it is baffling. I still get a smile on my face when I think about the whole thing though. To say that this is how a father treats his three year old, well almost four at the time, son is questionable behavior. He enjoyed pranks just as much as actual kindness and age held no bounds for either.
  Just a suggestion though, Don't mistake Nickel sandwiches for Knuckle.

  -SM-

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