Tuesday, June 26, 2007

my mother's sandwiches

(i wrote this a few weeks back when i was planning to submit an article for youngblood. we a bit tamad to do so, therefore, this gets posted here. anyway, it is my mother's special day toay)

Yesterday during news monitoring here at the office, I came across an article about malnourished kids and their canteen purchases. It pointed out those kids usually buy junk food and other low-in-nutrition food rather than healthy stuff like sandwiches. It also said that mothers now give money to their kids rather than prepare their snacks.

Growing up, I was not one of them. My Mama has been there to prepare sandwiches for me ever since I can remember.

Mama had her way of preparing sandwiches, from the most simple as slapping in a meant-for-breakfast piece of hotdog or fried egg between a split-open hot pandesal, to the most elaborate such as grating cheese, mixing it with chopped pimiento, salt and pepper, spreading it in a tasty bread then putting it inside the oven toaster to give it that crunch. Name a sandwich filling, may it be fruit preserve, peanut butter, tuna, chicken or liver spread, and we had that as a sandwich filling. During breakfast, she usually prepares them fresh from the fridge or the store, then wrap it with plastic (or sometimes, in tissue paper before the plastic), then place these things in the breakfast table to be taken by her kids before they rush to where they are going.

My younger sister and I have spent much of our school days with those home-made sandwiches as buddies as we handle schoolwork, friends, embarrassing moments and hunger pangs. We even shared our food buddies with friends who proclaimed our sandwiches the best they ever had—even fighting over who gets the bigger slice. At the same time, they tell us that we are lucky to have a mother who takes time out to prepare snacks for us.

Because of these sandwiches, we have also gained foster siblings. My mother, the soft-hearted soul that she is, usually has something extra to share around. These extra sandwiches usually found it given to a hungry classmate, thankful because our Mama has remembered him or her. My sister’s best friend actually declared herself part of our family when she started getting regular supply of sandwiches from my mother, while my high school group mates unanimously declared our house as meeting place for activities when my mother served tuna and chicken sandwiches while we were racking our brains for a presentation.

During college, these sandwiches became lunch buddies, usually coupled with a cold glass of Nescafe Ice. During these times too, my mother have upped the extra supply of sandwiches, telling me that I am lucky to be living in the city and can go home whenever I want to while my classmates are living in dormitories away from their families and miss home cooking which her sandwiches can hopefully provide. Mama was proven right when a classmate in freshman year wrote her a letter in my notebook thanking her for the sandwiches and how she battles homesickness with every ham or chicken sandwich she receives from me and orgmates who visit me at home never failed to stop and thank her for these goodies.

In my work life, these sandwiches became a source of income for us, as my mother briefly had me and my sister sell sandwiches to officemates and classmates. These sandwiches became comfort food to my officemates who did not need to get out of the office to get something to eat. Things have been busy around the house these days that the business took a break, but my work mates continue to sing the praises of these sandwiches.

These sandwiches have been more than food to us. It has been somewhat of a comforting presence for me and my sister; always there to tell us that Mama has prepared something to help us get through what school and work (and in my case, graduate school) has in store for us. Mama is there to provide not just relief from hunger pangs but a hug or some inspiration wrapped in plastic prepared with love. We know that whatever happens, we always take home wherever we go.

I had a sampling of that love before I went to work yesterday. Since I had to rush to work and would miss breakfast, Mama immediately had an alternative: she slapped sliced fried egg between two split-open pandesals and wrapped them in plastic and voila! Instant breakfast.

Happy 54th birthday, Mama. Your sandwiches are still tops in mine and Ericka’s list.


noreen said...

miss ko na luto ng nanay ko.kaya sa tuwing umuuwi ako sa davao, nagpapaluto talaga ako ng lahat ng peborit ko. hehe

johann, pareho pala tayong maka-mickey! sana sya big winner mamaya,no? :D

art said...

sarap nga ng french toast ng nanay mo.U