Hurrying not so long ago to make a turkey with cheese sandwich to toss into my daughter’s lunchbox, I had just drawn a knife carefully through the wheat bread hugged creation when I said out loud, “Sandwiches cut on the diagonal taste better than ones cut up and down.”
I didn’t know anyone was standing there.
“What?” my daughter asked with a roll of the eye and shake of the head. I have to admit, it did sound strange. Strange, but true. “Nothing,” I said, not wanting to start her day off having to worry about her mother’s sanity. I was talking to a sandwich, after all.
I do not know from where this odd sandwich-cutting observance originated. Perhaps it stems from a sandwich-eating childhood, where bologna reigned supreme and pimento loaf was considered Satan’s sandwich meat. Pimento loaf. That’s just weird. We were not raised as crustless kids, children who refuse to eat a sandwich unless the crust is cut off the bread. That was a waste. We ate it all.
That being said, I do seem to recall harboring dislike for the end pieces of bread in the loaf – the ones that were complete crust. My siblings and I would fuss over who had to eat it – the end piece – if that was all there was left. Mama would say, “There’s nothing wrong with the heel pieces,” and that didn’t make me feel much better. I didn’t want to eat anything that sounded like it had to do with a foot. Besides, this was the same mama who told us adding water to the empty ketchup bottle and swishing it around would make more ketchup. Watery ketchup and french fries. That’s just weird.
We always had Sunbeam bread. I’m sure there were other choices on the shelves of the grocery store, but probably not many, and when I conjure up a memory of the kitchen of my youth it has a loaf of Sunbeam white bread sitting on top of the refrigerator – the bread twist tied in that bright yellow and clear plastic bag with the picture of the little blonde girl with a blue bow in her hair eating a piece of bread slathered in what looks like butter on the front. And it wasn’t a heel piece, I’m pretty sure of that.
That was my argument.
I didn’t know anything other than white bread – wonderful, fresh, stick-to-your-teeth white bread. Slathered in peanut butter and jelly. Partnered with bologna and a hint of mustard. Painted in a thin layer of butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, then baked just until the sugar bubbled. And on very special mornings, dipped in eggs and milk and fried up in the pan, topped with cane mill syrup and a misting of powdered sugar, then cut down the middle. Diagonally.
“Do you really think sandwiches cut diagonally taste better than ones cut the other way?” my daughter asked me. Sigh. She had heard me talking to the sandwich.
“I do believe that to be true,” I said. This was a teaching moment. A milestone. Conviction. I had to teach her conviction, no matter how silly it may seem, if you truly believe something, stand behind it.
She looked at me.
“That’s just weird,” she said, picked up her lunch box and kissed me goodbye.
Weird? Maybe. But true. So, so true.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.