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A Jam Sandwich

I grew up in a simple homestead home. There were large amounts of love and laughter but small amounts of money. A massive garden and plenty of wild game meant we never went without wholesome food. Mom was an amazing cook, self taught and resourceful and my sister and I were the recipients of epic school lunches. Our friends had jam and peanut butter sandwiches made with store bought bread and we had gourmet works of culinary art. Roasted chicken and moose roast on homemade bread were common in our lunch boxes. This was accompanied by donuts, cinnamon buns, superb cookies or whatever other fabulous sweet that mom miraculously created in her kitchen, complete with wood stove. Her fried chicken was legendary and our friends loved it.
It’s hard to imagine but my sister and I happily traded our lunch items with our friends. We were embarrassed by the smells that came out of our lunch boxes when they were opened. We’d eat a few things and then shared everything else with the neighbor boys on the bus ride home. Mom thought that an empty lunch box meant we were coming home hungry, so she packed bigger lunches. Those boys thought they’d died and gone to heaven.
We still talk about those lunches, laughing as we recount the details. We don’t eat jam sandwiches. The culinary magazines, food shows and one of a kind food establishments are what we seek out. Fresh baked artisan breads, roasted meats, endless varieties of cheeses, colorful vegetables and fruit… these are what we use in our kitchens. How’s that for irony?
Last night we attended a performance by a children’s choir from Uganda. Our church was hosting the group and my sister and I volunteered to make the lunches for the following day. We so wanted to make them special, fretting about what kind of sandwiches to make etc. After the performance I leaned down and asked the sweetest little girl what her favorite thing was to eat in Canada. With no hesitation she replied, “Jam sandwiches.”
Needless to say, I will never think of a jam sandwich in the same way again. I will probably make homemade buns and while they’re still warm, scoop on some raspberry freezer jam that I made last summer. It will be accompanied by the memory of the love of mom, laughter over those neighbor boys who waited for our lunch leftovers and the sweet little Ugandan girl, not so different from 2 little girls, growing up on a homestead in northern Alberta & dreaming of jam sandwiches.

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