Our Food

proscuitto melone

Fact is: The Lord does not want for us to go hungry. We read at Mass today how He fed a multitude for which two-hundred days’ wages could not have bought enough food. On Sunday we will read about how He appeared to the hungry Apostles by the Sea of Galilee and gave them a nice breakfast. And He promised that, in His kingdom, we will sit at table, and He will wait on us.

The hand of the Lord feeds us. I for one love tamales, spring rolls, penne alla vodka, pancakes, pork barbecue, shrimp scampi, cannolis, mac’n’cheese with little chunks of Virginia ham, crisp apples, raisin bran, kippered herring, Greek salads, veal cutlets, prosciutto e melone, pad thai…

cannoliBut man does not live on bread alone. Man lives on bread and the truth. The Word of God, Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, the Chalice of Everlasting salvation.

Sometimes we should fast from earthly food. Our bishops have asked us to fast today, in fact, that the Supreme Court will uphold the Defense of Marriage Act. Sometimes we should feast and drink champagne.

But every day, no matter what day it is—Lent, Easter, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, even Saturday—baseball, basketball, football, or soccer season—every day, we need food for our souls. Christ. He feeds us.

Bread, Meat…Happiness

I am frankly surprised at myself. I am disappointed in my bad priorities. I have been blogging furiously for over a month, and I have yet to address a topic of enormous importance, a topic none of us can afford to ignore: Sandwiches.

A sandwich can simply be a matter of reaching into the fridge: mayonnaise, sliced ham and/or turkey, and–in the best of all possible worlds–hydroponic lettuce. From the bread basket: a nice big loaf of nutty whole-wheat bread. One knife and three minutes later: Utter satisfaction.

A sandwhich could be a matter of saying to oneself: Hot or cold? Hot or cold? Why the ‘or’? Hot and cold is what I am talking about. Three slices of bacon in the frying pan, two slices of white toast in the toaster, a crisp slice of tomato, two supple leaves of romaine, mayo…oh, yes.

Perhaps we are actually talking about a quick trip to Quizno’s. Or Subway.

It used to be that Quizno’s won that contest, hands-down. a) They were alone in toasting their sandwiches. b) Their combination of flavorful breads and sauces is truly creative. (Some people swear by Potbelly Sandwich Works. To me, their sandwiches are on the petite side. Plus, I am not into getting a can of Coke.)

On the excellent subject of Quizno’s, let me tell you a story. I had just finished an all-day bike ride. The sun was setting as I emerged with a hot chicken carbonara. I hung the bag on the handlebars, and then I bent down to undo my combination lock. As I did, I got a noseful of hot-sandwich aroma that was sweeter than any perfume or incense. I was looking forward to eating that sandwich with a kind of anticipation that only a chaste groom on his wedding day could appreciate.

At just that moment, a lovely young lass approached me and said, “Can you tell me where the Starbucks is?” The Starbucks was right behind her. I am not flattering myself. She had plainly seen the Starbucks. I am not Tom Cruise, but…

A sequence of thoughts ran through my mind like a train: Even if I were not a priest–even if I did not strive to behave like a Christian gentleman at all times–even if I did not fear the fires of hell–if you try to seduce me right now–if you try to wrestle me into a car to ravish me–I will fight you with every ounce of strength I possess, so that I can get home and eat this sandwich while it is still hot.

I pointed to the Starbucks without uttering a word and then rode like the wind back home.

Getting back to the question at hand, though: Quizno’s is sublime, but Subway has made a comback. Now Subway toasts. Now Subway has some pretty excellent sauces, especially sweet onion. It’s hard to justify paying twice as much at Quizno’s. On the other hand, Quizno’s has the superior Italian cold-cut.

Sometimes a sandwich is a matter of: egg salad. There is a deli down the street from me where they make a mean egg-salad sandwich. But the best egg salad I have ever eaten is produced by my brother priest, Fr. Mark Tucker. Sunday-afternoon egg-salad sandwiches in his rectory back when I was a seminarian are some of the most pleasant memories of life.

I am not a fan of seafood restaurants. Seafood is generally over-priced and underwhelming. But sometimes I have to go to seafood restaurants, because people tend to like them. Whenever I walk in the door, I beg God that the menu will include: Soft-shell crab sandwich. This is one of the most fun sandwiches you can get. There is all kind of little creature in there. Claws and flippers sticking out. If you lift up the bread, you can take a quick look at the beady little eyes. Nothing is more virile than consuming an entire organism between two slices of bread.

There is so much more to say on the subject of sandwiches. Please chime in with some juicy comments.