The Summer PB & J Sandwich

I still remember being little and what the concept of "cooking" meant to my two older siblings.  When they were still in junior high and I was just a little 1st or 2nd grader, cooking meant digging through the freezer for a box of frozen food after watching the requisite Saturday morning cartoons.  It didn't matter to us that the food had probably twice the recommended daily intake of sodium or that most of the time it took on the taste of its cellophane plastic wrapping... It was just food to us.  I remember contently mounding globs of gravy over the black divider into the section of gritty, gray mashed potatoes, and then the trio of us switching our plates to see what each other's meal tasted like.

But in the summer, when the three of us were home every day of the week, it became too annoying to search for a different frozen meal everyday at the supermarket.  On top of that, who on earth would want to subject himself/herself to the torture of eating a piping hot Stouffer's lasagna on a 90 degree day right after climbing out of the pool?  That was when we turned to the only other form of "cooking" we knew, and that was making sandwiches...

And thus, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich with strawberries and bananas was born.

My sister proclaimed it to be her invention, even though I wanted to take all the credit for it.  But truth be told, after a while I didn't care- it was just too darn good and so everyday throughout summer after swimming in the neighborhood pool we would go home and make these sandwiches.  It was during the days when Wonder Bread used to rule the supermarket shelves and was the staple of our household before the multi-grain wheat craze took over.  If there's one single requirement of this "recipe", it's that you MUST use white bread.  When paired with the thick, creaminess of the banana and peanut butter and the sickening sweetness of strawberry jam, the sandwich almost becomes too much to handle... but then take another bite and the ripe strawberries, bursting with juice, refresh your palate with the quintessential taste of summer.

We continued making the sandwich as the years passed by.  I remember making the mistake of packing it for my lunch one day in eighth grade.  As I proudly unwrapped the sandwich 4 hours later my excitement turned into devastation as I discovered that the bananas had turned into brown mush and the juice from the strawberries had made a soppy mess.  I could feel the other kids at my lunch table looking in disgust at the sandwich as I surreptitiously stowed it away... only so I could take it home and eat it the moment I got home from school.

When I first began this post, the recipe title was "Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich with Strawberries and Bananas".  However, as I ate the very sandwich in the photo above, I realized that for me it's way more than just that.  I may have gotten too carried away with this random narration of my life, but this is more than just a sandwich – It's a reminder of my childhood.  It's the Summer Sandwich.