Paradise in a Pocket


"The Perfect Sandwich"

The bus ride from New York to Washington began in the dark before 6AM in February 2003. We were going to protest the Iraq war, gathering on the mall and then marching past my old haunts on Capitol Hill through the Navy Yard. When we left the warm, sleepy fug of the bus, we entered weather well below freezing. The pocket of my waxed jacket made a natural freezer bag for my foil wrapped lunch, and I can still remember the anticipation of—and then the satisfaction I experienced-- biting into the cold zesty tuna sandwich midway through the march.

Good Italian canned tuna, packed in olive oil, spiked with lemon and capers, sprinkled with salt and coarse ground pepper, and mixed with a small palmful of fresh, juicy chopped celery. Holding it together was a large tablespoon of Trader Joe’s mayonnaise, fatty as you please, and two slabs of earthy seven-grain bread.

It was the perfect sandwich…and the thought of it kept me on the march. 

People are passionate about what goes between two slices of bread. And I didn't realize how good I was at fulfilling that passion until I started making my son, Angus, sandwiches for his lunchtimes at LaGuardia High School. I had sent him off with a sandwich of grilled sausage, wilted pepper and onion--all leftover from the husband's dinner (and you'll meet Richard, "The Chef" in these pages)--a smear of mayo, crisp romaine lettuce, all packed in a small Italian Ciabatta. He came home and told me kids were offering not only to pay him for bites but also to pay me for making them sandwiches. So when I come across the perfect sandwich, either under the flat of my hand, splayed over the knife to slice neatly through, or when out and about, I must tell you about it.  

PS. It seems appropriate to start the occasional "The Perfect Sandwich" pages of my blog today, because I'll soon be packing sandwiches--for my daughter, Julie, and me--for another march, The Women's March on Washington.