Monday, March 20, 2006

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Sandwiches are not made, they are created. Each type of sandwich is special piece of art in and of itself. Each has its own special qualities and a set of unique skills required to bring it to life. We will start with the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich, easy to make, impossible to master, delicious for lunch.

You will need the following:

Peanut Butter of the old fashion variety, this is the type that needs to be stirred because the oil all rises to the top. It is smooth, not chunky, and room temperature. If it was in the refrigerator you’ll need to set it out for awhile before you start. A fresh, previously unopened jar of peanut butter is the best, but you can’t be expected to throw out the jar after every sandwich.

Grape Jelly because there is no other flavor. Jelly not jam. The jelly should be chilled, straight from the refrigerator. Unlike peanut butter, jelly is best after the jar is 2/3rds gone. This is because the sound the utensil makes on the glass jar has better tone when there is less jelly.

Fresh white bread; speak to me not of wheat or other so-called ‘healthy’ bread.

Utensils: Butter knife, bread knife and a tea spoon.

Start by taking four slices of bread from the package, skipping the top nose piece and two slices. Yes, four pieces. You are making two sandwiches, you can’t eat just one. You might think you just want one, but after you eat the first and don’t have a second one you’ll be sorry. Trust me, two sandwiches. Take the first two pieces and lay them out on a paper towel so that the sides of the bread slices that were together are now both face up. Do the same with the second two pieces. This is so when you put them back together they will fit properly.

Slice a swath of peanut butter out with the bread knife and evenly spread it onto one slice of each of the two sets of bread. The key word here is “evenly” and make sure it goes all the way to the edge but not over. Neatness counts. You way want to hold the bread in the palm of your hand as you swirl the peanut butter around the bread. Don’t be rough and don’t tear or bruise the bread spreading too hard.

Use the spoon to stir the jelly. You just want to loosen it up a bit, break up the big jelly chunks so you can spread it out onto the bread. A few rotations of the spoon are more than fine. Use the spoon to scoop the jelly out onto the remaining two slices of bread. Spread it out with the bottom of the spoon, again evenly and all the way to edge watching the mess. Keep that peanut butter contaminated butter knife away. Take your time here, this part may sound simple but jelly can be deceptively difficult to spread evenly. If you have a big solid jelly chunk that you are having trouble spreading, use the edge of the spoon to ‘cut’ it. Go slow, no need to rush.

Now this part might seem esoteric but you will just have to trust me here. Forge the masterpieces together by taking the peanut butter bread and putting them on top of their corresponding jelly pieces, and then turn them up side down so the jelly is on top. Now finally cut the sandwiches in half diagonally with the bread knife. Think you are getting good at this? Try doing it in one clean stroke without tearing the paper towel underneath. If you need a crutch, you can cut them on a chopping block. I won’t even mention anything about cutting the crust off, grow up. Everybody knows the crust is what keeps the taste from leaking out.

Put a fresh paper towel or napkin onto a clean sandwich plate and arrange the sandwiches on top. Add some chips, I recommend Fritos. Quickly clean up and then get a tall cold class of a good beverage. Enjoy.



BugHunter said...

Both my parents and my therapist (when I was a bit younger, I'm not crazy anymore) said that I need to learn to "let go". The fact that sandwiches are made exactly how you describe and many many other problems were the cause of many issues I had growing up. I've spent years, trying to not make sandwiches exactly as you described, and now you're telling me it's art.

Of all the perfectionist things I've overcome (and swung completely to the other end of the spectrum on many) sandwich making is one that I still cannot "let go".

Joseph the Fourth said...

A few years ago I signed up for a photography class and the community college. I met a few people and formed this little group that kept signing up for more advanced classes. One of the guys, not really part of the group but we went out of our way to make him feel like he was, was an honest to God, diagnosed, paranoid schizophrenic. Very odd, talked to himself as in both sides of the conversation and lived at home with his mother ala Norman Bates.

I remember was in the dark room lab with him and some girl I didn’t know from some other class. I took my picture outside to look at it and went back in. A few minutes later he left and she came up to me, grabbed me by the front of the shirt, and looking daggers in my eyes. Very slowly and carefully she said, “Never - leave me alone - in here - with him - again.” The whole time he had been talking with himself about what he wanted to have for dinner when he got home, but I had gotten so used to him I had just zoned it out.

Anyway! I bring this up because for his senior project in intermediate photography we had to do this slide show to music. He took some really dramatic classical pieces and did the assembly of his soup and sandwich lunch.

I kept thinking of him as I was writing that and I really wanted to break out my digital camera and do it up right. But it was late at night and I didn’t have the correct supplies, plus I would have had to light it and all that.