Not Yet Sick

December 8, 2013

Well, I guess I need to start out this morning by confessing that I am out of sync with the season. I’m sure that both of my regular readers have moved beyond Thanksgiving leftovers, but I ate two (count ‘em—two) turkey sandwiches yesterday. I made a special trip down to Goodrich to buy some of Aunt Millie’s Butter Top White Bread (conveniently on sale) in order to make the kind of turkey sandwich that reminds me of home. Chasing down the white bread tangent, I note Aaron Bobrow-Strain’s social history. He thinks that white bread went out of style because sometime in the ‘80s (remember then?) rich hipster boomers learned to associate the pneumatically enhanced, industrially produced loaves made from denatured wheat flour with Southern working-class white people—simultaneously eliding (while racially coding) widespread use of the pre-sliced and plastic-bagged sponge-cake comestibles by American racial and ethnic minorities. I think his version of the story overlooks a fact I observed personally during the aforementioned ‘80s: Anyone who grew up eating real bread (which is to say Europeans) thought that stuff was terrible!

But, as usual, I digress. Perhaps it was my misspent youth but once a year I hanker for a puffy white loaf sandwich. And that once a year coincides with leftover turkey. Make mine with mayonnaise. Of course, being a rich (globally speaking) white post-hippie hipster who would not normally be caught dead with a loaf of Aunt Millie’s, Mrs. Baird’s or Bunny whitebread in his grocery cart, I now make my once a year turkey sandwich creation with mayonnaise that contains olive oil. Don’t read the ingredients too closely unless you want to learn that the percentage of olive oil in that jar of Hellmann’s (Bring Out the Best®) is rather puny—but that would just lead to a digression that is unnecessary in the present context.

I also like to have sweet pickle chips, a few olives, a pickled pepper and some pepperonci on the plate. I like the idea of pickled okra, but I don’t really need to eat them. And then, for that final touch: Cheetos.

Well, in truth, Cheetos are not part of the traditional after-Thanksgiving snack supper—a tradition that goes on for at least a week after Thanksgiving, as this week’s blog cheerfully attests. But when I was down at Goodrich looking for the Aunt Millies, it just happened that the Cheetos were a weekly special. And how can you resist that, I ask? Or more to the point, why (beyond the obvious links between diabetes and obesity) should you resist that? I mean, if you are going to buy white bread, you’ve already blown any cool that you came into the store with, so you might as well throw some Cheetos in the cart, too. Maybe it’s just my personal household, but it seems that we are heading into that time of the year when all the usual food rules go out the window.

Pretty soon now that turkey in the refrigerator will be teeming with so many bacteria that even I won’t want to touch it. But up to now, I’m still not sick (of turkey sandwiches). So enjoy yourself: It’s later than you think.

Paul B. Thompson holds the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University

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One thought on “Not Yet Sick

  1. Paul,

    You make a leftover turkey sandwich exactly the right way. Your mother would be proud. Part of the fun of holiday dinners is having leftover turkey sandwiches on plain white bread with lots of mayonnaise and a sweet pickle.

    However — a lament —

    A key ingredient in this traditional repast is becoming harder and harder to find, I find, in today’s complex world — plain white bread sliced appropriately thin.

    I have trouble getting people to believe that I want “plain ol’ white bread. Restaurants and fast food places seem to feel increasingly obligated to Italianize bread with various herbs and Asiago, which I only recently learned is some kind of cheese, not an adjective describing bread made in some peculiar way.

    Now, when the occasion is right and for a change I do enjoy my peanut butter or American cheese or real cheddar sandwich on bread competing for containing the greatest number of grains. Even then I rarely go above seven. Twelve grain bread? I didn’t even know there are twelve grains.
    I think we only learned to identify about eight in that mandatory 9th grade agriculture class taught by Dr. Karls who know has a building named after him. That might mean that the importance of (Southwest) Missouri State’s Agricultural educational programs is recognized as a high priority, except that the building named after Dr. Karls is the same one in which he taught us Greenwood students mandatory 9th grade agriculture right after the Civil War.

    What’s that, Bernice? Yes, I do digress; when do I not? Just water your plants, OK?

    Anyway, I find mashed potatoes to be the same story as white bread. When I wants mashed potatoes I wants potato taste, enhanced with melted butter, salt, pepper, and a little gravy,not pizza pie taste.
    I keep a short list of places … restaurants in the surrounding region — that do not Italianize their mashed potatoes. The list is short indeed.

    Come to think of it, green beans home style are rare also.
    What is it with all the Italian spices?

    It is good to know a man who appreciates the true pure taste of plain ol’ white bread.

    In advance,may I say — Happy Christmas Dinner Leftovers!

    Regular Reader #2

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