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Alan Liere: A Little Bit of Love in every bite

The perfect food for anything outdoors? The versatile, tasty sandwich. (SR)
The perfect food for anything outdoors? The versatile, tasty sandwich. (SR)

A friend of mine, Eddie, judged the goodness of his woman by the kind of sandwich she packed in his fishing lunch. “Yeah,” he’d say as he attacked his meatloaf and cheddar, “she shops too much and smokes like a chimney, but she sure makes a good sandwich!”

I figured that with sandwiches as his major criterion for marital bliss, it was not surprising Eddie managed to stay married longer than I. A man with so few longings was pretty easy to get along with. Every July, in fact, when a bunch of us got together for our annual Snake River channel cat extravaganza, Eddie evaluated both our lunches and our marriages according to his standards. More than once, he cackled and said, “There’s no love in that sandwich, pal.”

While I never turned down my wife’s offer to make my lunch, it must be noted I had never felt that making my lunch before hunting or fishing trips was my wife’s duty. I would be out recreating, after all, and she was staying at home to deal with kids and their sports and music lessons.

Like my friend Eddie, I’m a big fan of sandwiches. Sandwiches are the perfect food during hunting and fishing seasons. You can throw a sandwich in a Ziploc bag and carry it all day in your coat pocket and it will still be OK when you have time to eat it – unless it’s tuna fish and you remember it six months later.

Making hunting and fishing lunches today is a satisfying endeavor for me, limited only by the size of my cooler. Still, I have a friend, Mike, who makes his buddies envious at lunchtime. He includes things like submarine sandwiches, pickled asparagus spears, shrimp kabobs, and chocolate éclairs. I can never hope to outlunch him, but I do have sandwich fun with combinations one does not normally put between slices of bread.

One of the sandwiches I have invented has become my classic hunting fare. It is a common peanut butter and raspberry jelly sandwich, but I add chopped walnuts, raisins, apple slices and smoked cheddar cheese. It’s both delicious and nutritious, and no one has ever asked me for a bite.

My father used to make a sandwich with white onions and lard on rye when we went fishing, and he also added black pepper. He starting eating these during the Depression when it was that or nothing, but even when he didn’t have to, Dad would sometimes get a hankering and bring home a pound of lard. No one asked him for a bite, either.

On my mom’s side of the family, my maternal grandma always sent her husband off to work in the fields with his favorite sandwich – fried cornmeal mush topped with syrup and bacon between two slabs of homemade bread. When her daughters got older, they used to kid her about this concoction, but Gram paid them no mind, saying, “There are some things he does better around here, and some things I do better. I make a good sandwich. That man works hard on this farm. Making him a nice lunch is a simple way of saying, ‘I love you.’ ”

I guess that’s what Eddie had been telling me all along.


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