Lunch at home. For many of us that has been the norm for a long time. But for others it has become the new reality.
Never fear. For almost a quarter century I have been here for you, my readers, in times of joy and trouble. I got your back. Growing up in Porterdale I foraged for myself at lunchtime on many idyllic summer days between the age of 6 and 16. Sixteen was when you went to work during summer vacation. Vacation is a funny word to use for spending eight to 12 hours a day in a cotton mill, but that was the term we used.
And summer lasted until after Labor Day, like God and Horace Mann intended, but that’s another story for another day. We were about to have lunch.
Honesty compels me to admit that my eating habits, during the current situation, have been molded by my relationship with my lovely wife, Lisa, who has been sheltering in place with me for six of the past eight weeks. I was quarantined alone for two of them. I ate better when I was alone.
But let me offer some free advice on ways to tantalize your taste buds if you have grown tired of eating whatever it is you are eating for your noonday meal.
While we are on the subject, let me say this. I have traveled the world over, and there seems to be a big misconception about what meals are called. This is the definitive explanation from a Porterdale-born-and-bred-Southerner.
The meal you eat at home every night is supper. If you use the good china and fancy napkins and invite folks over and put on airs, you can call it dinner. Likewise, if you take your evening meal at a restaurant that uses cloth napkins. The big meal you eat after church on Sunday is dinner, and if you eat an enormous full course repast in the middle of the day during the week, you can flip a coin and call it what you will.
But we aren’t fixing to talk about any of those. We are talking about lunch, when you just eat something quick and light around the noon hour to stretch the wrinkles out of your belly and get you by until supper. Got it?
OK. Here we go. Sandwiches are the mainstay, of course. Betty Robertson Kincaid, my fourth-grade teacher, taught me that we get the word “sandwich” from the Earl of Sandwich, who was bad to get drunk and play cards all day. He loved gambling so much that he didn’t want to leave the table to dine and had his servants bring him slices of meat wrapped up in bread. The sandwich.
What is a proper sandwich and what is not is a great source of contention around our house. Lisa and I see eye-to-eye on certain classics, like the basic ham sandwich — or turkey. Sometimes I still sneak a little bologna into the fridge, and I am never without a can of Spam.
We both like BLTs and grilled cheese. And she makes good tuna salad, and her chicken salad is almost exactly like my mama’s — which is saying something. Her pimento cheese is not bad, but that lady over in South Carolina that sells hers at the grocery store has her beat. I bet you’ve had all of those sandwiches frequently since the middle of March.
And when Sir Henley, our oldest grandson, is with us, as he has been for the last little while, a lot of peanut butter and jelly gets eaten, although I prefer honey to jam.
Now here is where Lisa and I start to get a little sideways. You see, I like to put bananas on my peanut butter sandwiches, and I slice them. If you cut them in little circles they tend to fall out. Lisa doesn’t believe in putting bananas on anything except cereal. (We’ll talk about breakfast another time.)
I also enjoy a good mayonnaise sandwich from time to time. Lisa pitches a fit whenever she catches me enjoying a mayonnaise sandwich. She says they are fattening and unhealthy.
Let’s use a little logic here. According to her, I can put two pieces of pre-packaged sliced luncheon meat on my white bread and mayonnaise, adding 160 calories, and it’s a perfectly healthy choice for lunch, but leave off the ham, and my sandwich becomes taboo. That don’t make a lick of sense.
I also like sliced pineapple sandwiches. That’s a no-go with Lisa, too.
But if you want to go beyond the standard sandwich, side of chips and a pickle, here are some of the ideas from my childhood. I ate these almost daily, and here I still am.
Peanut butter and Ritz crackers. Add a few apple slices. Better than snuff and not half as dusty.
Vienna sausages and soda crackers. (I think you find the crackers in a box marked “saltines.”)
And best of all — an R.C. Cola and a Moon Pie. There has been a lot of cloth doffed by men having an R.C. Cola and a Moon Pie for lunch.
There you have it. At least two weeks’ worth of lunch at home ideas. Surely in two weeks you can escape the house and go get a hamburger.
Stay safe, y’all. And don’t forget to wash your hands before you open your Vienna sausages.