Sunday, September 23, 2012

If There's PB&J, There's A Will And A Way

From today's Times and News-Star

 Man does not live by bread alone.

He also needs peanut butter and jelly.

(Thank you, Lord!)

In America less than a month, Victor Lange learned the importance of this sandwich staple last week. A freshman on the Louisiana Tech golf team, the Johannesburg, South Africa teenager became the first Tech golfer since 2008 to win an intercollegiate event.

Fueling the victory was steady play and a steady diet of PB&J. Tech’s Jeff Parks, now the favorite for every Coach of the Year award known to man, handed his newest recruit an afternoon snack midway through the tournament’s first round. It was Lange’s first snack of the tournament and the first peanut butter and jelly sandwich of his life.

Lange is 18.

“Every time I took a bite,” Lange said, “I ran off a string of birdies.”

Parks, a father of young ones and an obvious disciple of the handy sandwich, funneled the South African another PB&J on the fifth hole on the tournament’s second day.

“Immediately after, I holed out my second shot from 180 yards for an eagle,” Lange said. “I loved it. I kept asking coach, ‘What have I been missing all my life?’”

Plenty, Victor. Plenty.

Welcome to America!

Brit statesman John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, “invented” the original sandwich in the 1700s. A gambler who hated to leave a card game, the Earl is said to have summoned his caddie for meat between bread slices so he could keep raising and calling and whatnot. Good for him.

While the Brits invented it, Americans perfected it. We are a people who embrace the sandwich, and rightfully so. Do you know what’s waiting for you at the window of the imaginary drive-thru lane in your home’s kitchen? Dependable Mr. Sandwich, that’s what.

When you carve out the Mount Rushmore of Sandwiches, it would look like this in my book:

Peanut butter (Crunchy Peter Pan) and Smucker’s Strawberry Preserves. Lange’s sandwich was grape jelly. If Parks had given his student-athlete the exact sandwich I’ve described here, Lange would have parked under an oak tree, ordered another and never finished the round. Again, Parks is a good coach: he gives his player’s only a taste of greatness and keeps them hungry for more. There is never a time when peanut butter and jelly is a bad idea;

Grilled American/Cheddar Cheese, Land O’ Lakes butter on both sides of the bread, lightly salted upon completion. Perfect with cold milk chaser. On a cold day, most excellent when dipped in tomato soup;

Turkey Po-Boy, but the bread here is extra crucial and gravy is required for dipping (Ray’s Pe Ge is what I’m thinking about here, if you wish to get specific, and I wish to);

Chicken Salad, especially if it’s like they used to make them at Stone’s Pharmacy in Mullins, S.C., in this little bread press/toaster thingy. No grapes and apples and fruit salad in the chicken salad, please.

Step back, deeply inhale, and admire that for a minute, this national monument to simplicity, this pantheon of culinary wonder. It takes my breath away. And makes me hungry.

It should go without saying that the bread must be fresh to the point of sticking to the roof of your mouth when you eat it. And that if fried bologna or pimento cheese on fresh white bread want to beat me up, they have a point. On another day, each probably makes the list.