Lima Al-Azzeh

PB & J

In Food in Vancouver, Foreign Affairs on March 3, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I was 16 years old the first time I ever sunk my teeth into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was babysitting for my friend’s younger siblings (about three of them) at various ages of toddler-dom. Before she left to work, leaving the children in my charge, she gave me the run-down, the facts, the “if you do exactly as I say we shouldn’t have to deal with any meltdowns, breakdowns or disasters” list. I listened intently. I did exactly as I was told. Don’t fuck with the routine. 

Amongst my laundry list of “make sure you do’s” – the necessary ones to make for a smooth day – one of the items was, “if they get hungry, just make a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They love it”.

As an Arab kid, peanut butter and jelly on white Wonder Bread, was a foreign thing I had only heard about on television, in shows like “The Wonder Years” where there was always a stack of white bread on the table. I associated it as a retro-American version of shawarma. The jelly typically strawberry. I was encountering my first opportunity to consume this piece of North American nostalgia, as we didn’t usually stock any of these ingredients in my own home (where woud the lahmah – meat – go?)

Come lunch time, I was pretty excited. I started crafting sandwiches in my best “Leave it to Beaver” attitude, my butter knife smoothly slicing through the peanut butter like a JIF commercial. Or was it Skippy’s?

My first thought was: I hadn’t really had much toast that was purposefully left un-toasted, before. This is new. But eventually I grew to enjoy the stickiness of the peanut butter on the roof of my mouth and the little pops of sweetness and tartness simultaneously from the jam (must look up difference between “jelly” and “jam”).

It was a formative experience in my North America-life.

And now I’m one of those people who considers good old PB&J a staple to her fridge. Of course, it’s always alongside the lahmeh.

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