Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hamming It Up

I'm Polish, so I grew up eating a lot of ham. In addition to kapusta i kielbasy - sauerkraut and Polish sausage - we had baked ham for every major holiday. Early on, I grew to dislike the stuff, particularly cold, so my mother would let my brother and I eat as much as we wanted when it was fresh out of the oven.

Not only did we have baked ham entirely too many times during the year, we also ate a ton of imported ham cold cuts, which seemed to be the only kind my mother bought. Occasionally, we could coerce her into buying something different - bologna, or krakowska (a salami-like Polish sausage) - but that was rare. Mom liked ham. Grandma liked ham. So therefore We. Must. Eat. Ham.

I won't even get into my mothers Spam fetish. ::::shudder::::

When I was about three or four, my grandmother had a stroke. The details are quite vague, understandably (and I have no one to ask), but I do remember Grandma being bed-ridden for some months. Her bed had been moved into my Uncle Frank's room so he could keep an eye on her during the night, but during the day, she was under the care of my mother.

Mom would usually send me downstairs in the afternoon, presumably to keep Grandma company, but also perhaps to get me out of the way. During this time, Mom would make lunch for us. Funny how I don't recollect my grandmother's exact issues, but I have vivid memories of what we ate, every day. (Ok, maybe not so funny.)

Imported ham on either toasted white bread or rye, with iceberg lettuce and Thousand Island (or Russian) dressing. And a side of Funyuns.

To this day, a ham sandwich isn't edible unless it has a schmear of dressing and some lettuce. With mustard, it's just not worth my time, but with that sweetened mayonnaise-based concoction, it's downright - tasty. Go on - try it for yourself.

Ham on rye with lettuce and Russian dressing, from Cafe On the Square.


Nanc Twop said...

Memories linked to food seem to be seared into our brains...

* If you like that dressing on a sandwich, you might also like SÅS SENAP & BASILIKA
(its a Mustard & Basil Sauce) if you happen to go past an Ikea.

David Dust said...

I love Thousand Island dressing on my ham & swiss sandwiches. The guys at the deli across the street keep some in the cooler for me.