Finally! My family lands this morning. I hate even to think about what it must have been like for J, my brave and stolid spouse, suffering, as I write, the indignities of cattle-class air travel for 12 hours with three small children, but I’ve nevertheless been anticipating their arrival like a fat kid in line for cake. (Yes, I know that’s not appropriate. It’s also not my line. Sue me, and 50 Cent while you’re at it.) The thing of it is, I miss them, viscerally – 5,000 miles, a week and counting, and the cultural and linguistic mysteries of the English version of English standing between us has begun to feel like a low-grade amputation, a tingling illusion in place of a missing digit…
Having recently survived the same trip, with my nose upturned at equivalent culinary offenses from the United Airlines galley and a similar deficiency of REM, I know these two things: they will be hungry; and they will be tired. I can offer them a bed, but as far as an actual cure for jet lag, well, that’s something best left either to the church or the pub. Food, however, this is something I know a bit about, and I’ve already been to the sandwich shop in preparation. And I walked out with what I figured to be a rather agnostic investment in local custom, the ubiquitous tuna-mayo tea sandwich. How could I have been more wrong?
Considering the size of the target, it seems almost rude to start my trans-Atlantic blogging by trashing English food, sort of like appealing to the NRA’s version of the 2nd Amendment when shooting fish in a barrel:
Then again, I’m pressed for time, and I didn’t ask them to grace both interior faces of my sarnie with a quarter-inch of cold butter before heaping a glossy, oozing mass of mayonnaise-laden tuna on top, that’s just the way it’s done over here.
Quite seriously, I love much of what British food has to offer – quite possibly the best thing I’ve eaten all year, and over which I’ll fawn and grovel tomorrow, is an English classic from a cookbook first published ca. 1390 – but buttering a mayonnaise sandwich? Who does that? And why, having done it once, did they ever think it was a good idea to keep on doing it?
These are the questions I ponder. And since I’ll be here for three weeks this time, and half of most of the next several months, we’ll get to talk about it quite a bit. More than either of us would like, I suspect, but it is what it is.