I’ve had delicious food many times. And I know I’m not unique in that regard. I’m also incredibly grateful that life has given me little windows of opportunity to enjoy a variety of great cuisine.
Imagine a sublime Cioppino, enjoyed while vacationing in a coast side restaurant in Southern California; a lucious T-bone steak, barbequed by my dad; Southern fried catfish while on a trip to Tennessee; Dim Sum at a little, tucked away eatery in the Bay Area of California; or Jamaican oxtail stew at an eatery in my own community. Wow. We’re talking good eats. Of course this is spread out over some years. But memorable nonetheless.
All sounds so good, so yummy. But I tend to think of foods like those as going out suppers. Occasions to spend with friends and family. Like we used to do before the pandemic. Remember those times when you could be spontaneous, phone or text a “Hey, what you doing for supper? Meet us at our favorite spot, 6ish?” Remember? I’m an optimist and just know we’ll get to do that lifestyle again someday. In the meantime, however, meals, especially lunchtime for me is home time.
In 2020, the first full year of the pandemic — gee, what shall we call it? The Great Pandemic of 2019-to-?? — I taught myself to bake bread. I’m at an age that, if you knew me, you’d wonder why I hadn’t already learned this essential cooking skill. Well, my grandma didn’t bake bread and neither did my mom. So no passing down of culinary knowledge there. Last year learning to bake bread helped pass the time, gave us something novel to eat and helped me to recover from cancer treatment. Let me tell you, there is magical healing in the smell of freshly baked bread!
I got pretty good at baking two types of bread: a rustic, simple yeast loaf you bake in a dutch oven; and brioche style hamburger buns. I could actually form that dough into either hamburger buns or hotdog buns. Perfect for both. It was the rustic loaf that I discovered was best for my sandwich. Now let’s talk tuna.
My go-to sandwich of late is tuna salad. My recipe is simple and straightforward. I kind of cheat a little though on the flavor of the tuna itself. There is a brand that makes individual servings and the packets of tuna come in a variety of flavors. I have two favorites that I alternate -one is on the spicy side and the other on the lemony side. Whichever I choose though, my recipe is the same:
- finely dice onion — I’d say about a tablespoon or so
- dice celery-about half a stalk, and not as finely diced as the onion, you want that crunch
- add the tuna from the single serving packet
- add the desired amount of mayonnaise that suits your palate
- add a smidge of your favorite mustard
Stir it all up. On two slices of that freshly baked bread, spread a bit of mayo, put a leaf of lettuce [I use butter lettuce] on one slice, pile on the tuna and top it with another leaf of lettuce and the other slice of bread. Voila! One tasty sandwich. Another way I like my tuna sandwich is to put that mixture into a flour tortilla. I’ll heat a burrito-sized flour tortilla in the microwave for 18 seconds, put the tuna mixture in, wrap it up and you are good to go. For whatever reason I never put lettuce in the burrito tuna sandwich.
I know that some folks like to add diced sweet or dill pickle to their tuna salad. Not me. From time to time, though, I’ll have a baby dill on the plate along with a slice of my favorite cheese [applewood smoke gruyere] and some potato chips — that plus my tuna sandwich, now that’s lunch!
Coming in a close second for favorite sandwiches is an egg salad sandwich. I’ll use the same recipe as above substituting a chopped hard-cooked egg for the tuna and seasoning it with some salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Whether on my rustic bread or rolled in a warm flour tortilla, it makes for a great lunch too.