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  • Writer's pictureJane Rubin

The Sandwich

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

This morning I had ‘The Sandwich'.


My husband and I fondly refer to ‘The Sandwich’ as our food love, nemesis and unpardonable eating sin. We have our own particular sandwiches - I actually have two of them. But this morning, I had my favorite breakfast sandwich - a toasted onion bagel slathered with cream cheese and topped with thin slices of lox, red onion and super ripe tomatoes. My sandwich rocks the calorie count at about 900, or 18 weight watchers points. It is insanely delicious and makes my taste buds giddy with pleasure.


I ate it at 11 am after a vigorous workout with Alex and have chosen to count it as my breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack for the day. I have only 5 Weight Watchers points left until bedtime and there’s no way I'm going to make it! My husband’s almost forbidden sandwich is corn beef, pastrami, coleslaw and Russian on fresh rye bread with pickles. I get little comfort knowing that his is probably more calories than mine...


Aside from being delicious, I happen to believe that my food passions are linked to deep emotional ties. Lox and onions were two of my earliest favorite savory foods. My father would bring the toppings home on occasion along with the critical base of hot bagels and bialies from one of the many Brooklyn Jewish bakeries he referred to as his customers. He was in the bakery business and called himself a peddler - a seller of machinery that bakeries needed to produce their goods. Even on Saturdays, Pop would make his sales rounds in the wee hours of the morning while the bakers were hard at work, sometimes bringing home the most delicious fresh bread from bakeries of all nationalities and if we were really lucky, the fixings too.


These aromatic bags he carried into the house irritated my mother to no end. Mom, the original anorexic, had put the kibosh on all bakery sweets from his customers since the very beginning of his career - breads were in the neutral zone. She was obsessed with our little bodies and would throw herself in front of a truck before she let us become chubby children.


But Pop found the perfect solution when he wanted to bring home a loaf of crunchy heeled, warm bread. His rationale was that it was part of the sales choreography with his customers - the overture, a shared love of the end product. Bread was referred to as the staff of life, at least in our house. That’s when my mother typically gave him the patented ‘you have got to be kidding me’ look and an “Oh Robert!” that I think was actually part of their very unique mating ritual.


How could my mother ever think Pop could be controlled and as for keeping us trim - well, he could care less. My father, who was hungry as a kid during the depression in the 1920’s, put good eating above most all other earthly pleasures. I can’t imagine he ever refused a loaf of warm, freshly baked bread from a customer and I suppose, many of those loaves never made it home - given away en route. But when the bread made it through the front door, my mother always declined as he sliced the warm loaf, and we kids all jumped with delight!


Today, not only was my sandwich incredibly delicious, but it also held the allure of being forbidden and if I really want to get Freudian about it, reflected the powerful pushes and pulls of my parents’ marital politics. It’s no wonder I was physically and emotionally exhausted by the time I finished eating it. Phew, it will be a while until I have that again! Am I the only one out there with such a complicated relationship with food?

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