Wednesday, October 10, 2012

updating pbj

When I was a kid one of my favorite sandwiches was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  My preferred version was the ones I got at my friend Donna's house where her mom used a creamy peanut butter.  I don't remember the brand but I remember preferring it to the all natural, fresh ground peanut butter we had at home.  She also used squishy white bread (probably Wonderbread) which I never got at home and adored.   Donna and I would make our sandwiches with enormous amounts of peanut butter and a large heaping of jelly (usually grape) oozing out of the edges of the sandwich.  We would lick the edges to "clean it up" and then bite into a sandwich so thick and sticky that our mouths were somewhat gummed shut.

Over time my tastes have changed and that pbj has gone through several modifications over the years.  At one point I was making ezekiel bread; grinding the grains and legumes myself to make the flour before I baked the bread.  This deliciously robust-flavored bread happens to make a fabulous, filling choice.  I also, over time, lowered the amount of sugar, salt, and added fat in my peanut butter by making different choices.  Then, eventually, I switched altogether and began to use fresh ground almond butter from the machine at my grocery store.  I find it amusing that although I thought the fresh ground peanut butter of my youth was not that good, I've come full circle and now love the crunchiness and true flavor of fresh ground nut butter.  And while I love jam it's usually either handmade or a purchase that is whole fruit, no added sugar or other chemical ingredients.  But even that has now changed and I often find myself mashing up fresh berries with a tiny drizzle of honey as the "jelly" in my sandwich.

These days, due to digestive challenges, I find I do better avoiding gluten and so, unable to, as yet, make a good gluten free ezekiel-style bread I am using a brown rice bread which is very satisfying.  But I've changed the sandwich again and now often have it open face using one slice of bread, some almond butter (just almonds, nothing else), a few mashed berries, that drizzle of honey and it's just as satisfying and comforting as the pbj of my youth.

I suspect that because the changes were gradual and because they were choices that I made, this seems perfectly reasonable to me.  I'm equally certain that if I had abruptly changed from that fluffy air bread, sugar-laden, oily peanut butter, and over-processed grape jelly to today's version I would not have been a happy camper.   While I know it's not the sandwich of my youth, it's what I reach for when I want that kind of food.

Our food is what we think of it and how we see those emotional connections and associations.  What have you changed and yet it's still the same?

photo: Renee Comet

1 comment:

Sam said...

Mac & Cheese. First the blue box stuff was a staple, then we switched to Annie's white cheddar. Good but not fab. Now I use elbow pasta with 2% milk, flour and the best cheddar I can find. Sometimes I add in greyure or swiss cheese and top with bread crumbs.

Personally I hate PBJ - my mom used store grape jelly, Pepperidge Farm white bread (sawdust) and organic peanut butter. 12 years of that for lunch did me in.