By RICH FOLEY
It’s no great revelation for me to reveal that I like peanut butter. I have for as long as I can remember. Peanut butter alone on rye bread is one of my favorite sandwiches. If I have to deal with a lesser bread, some adjustments to the recipe become necessary.
Adding a little honey or jam can make up for a less tasteful bread. Or maybe a little mustard. If I’ve recently been a customer of Arby’s drive-through window, a leftover packet of horseradish sauce can really spice up the flavor. I hate to call it “Horsey” sauce like they do at Arby’s. That gets me thinking about where the sauce really comes from.
But my most favorite version of the sandwich contains a thick layer of cole slaw, at least one half to three quarters of an inch, spread across the bottom layer of peanut butter (this recipe works best if the top slice of bread is also spread with peanut butter to help hold the slaw in). Even with two layers of peanut butter, the sandwich is best eaten with a spoon. If not, I’d suggest a bib.
I don’t know of anyone else who adds cole slaw to the sandwich, but I’ve heard of many other versions. An old friend of mine used to love putting a thick slice of sweet onion along with some apple slices on his sandwich, saying the additions made it extra crunchy.
I have to admit that still sounds pretty good, although I’ve never tried it. When I want a crunchy peanut butter sandwich, I add a few potato chips to it, or just use crunchy peanut butter. I have read that Ernest Hemingway’s favorite sandwich was peanut butter with thick onion slices, but I have to wonder if that was really true, or just his way of getting people to stay away from him.
Dwight Garner, a writer for the New York Times, recently wrote of his love for the peanut butter and pickle sandwich, claiming the “vinegary snap of chilled pickle cuts, like a dash of irony, against the stoic unctuousness of peanut butter.” Heck, until I read that, I didn’t even know that peanut butter had unctuousness, stoic or otherwise. I’ll save you the time of looking it up—according to my dictionary, all he’s saying is that peanut butter is oily. Well, duh.
Much of Garner’s article records his findings that most people have never heard of a peanut butter and pickle sandwich, saying “a few acted with outright disgust, the way people did when they heard that Julia Roberts had married Lyle Lovett.” Actually, I always thought that Lyle deserved better than her.
A recent Associated Press article stated that a bumper crop of peanuts in 2012 should result in a drop in prices for peanut butter, which have risen by quite a bit in the last year or so. Maybe I didn’t need to stockpile a dozen jars against future high prices after all, but then again, a dozen jars won’t last long in a peanut butter lover’s home. Besides, I haven’t seen any of those lower prices yet.
The article stated that lower prices for peanut butter would help food banks where it is one of the most popular items because children like it, it has a high protein content and also has a long shelf life. Peanut butter also might help save the restaurant industry.
The BurgerBusiness online blog recently discussed peanut butter as an addition to, or even a replacement for, other proteins in sandwiches. Chicken has shown up in more burger restaurant menus the past few years as beef prices continue to rise, but now chicken is getting pricier as well. Some restaurants have experimented with pork and lamb, but their prices are also on an upswing. Can peanut butter come to the rescue?
BurgerBusiness says peanut butter “coexists nicely with ketchup, mustard, mayo and other spreads.” Perhaps adding peanut butter to a bun will allow a restaurant to get away with a smaller beef patty, thus reducing their costs. Just don’t confuse this idea with that burger chain that puts actual dairy butter on their buns. That combination sounds downright nauseating to me. Let’s stick with the peanut butter, shall we?
Other restaurants are experimenting with sandwiches featuring peanut butter as the only protein source and add-ons such as pineapple, bananas, and yes, onion. Maybe I’d better see if I can get a patent on the peanut butter and cole slaw sandwich. There’s no need to give away a billion dollar idea for nothing.