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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

Emily grows as a foodie and columnist, traces her journey from PB&J to a grown-up turkey sandwich

Wednesday afternoon hit me with a pondering surprise. I just consumed a sandwich for lunch and continued searching for that little something extra to top off the meal before class. As I began scrounging the kitchen and pantry for possibilities, waves of food memories and growth washed over me.  


How mature should I be today, I asked myself. A bowl of baby-food-like applesauce could hit the spot. The half-eaten jar winked at me from the bottom shelf, bringing back my earliest memories of food sitting in a high chair with my meal smeared all over my face and the floor. Nah, too child-like for today.  


I could keep things easy and whip up a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, only if made with creamy peanut butter, strawberry jelly and wheat bread. I could even cut it into squares, not triangles, just for old time's sake. I'd just eaten a grown-up sandwich with spinach and turkey, so another sandwich didn't sound appetizing.  


Maybe I could graduate to a pot of pre-teen deliciousness in a box known as Kraft mac-n-cheese. Cooked up wonderfully by babysitters throughout my life, older brothers for lunch during the summertime or my parents for dinner to ease my never ending request for more mac-n-cheese. Since it was my favorite food for a good third of my life, mac-n-cheese always brings a smile to my face.  


Around age 10, I always requested homemade mac-n-cheese for my birthday dinner. But it had to be made with long spaghetti noodles or it wasn't special enough. I glanced at the microwave clock - 1:47. No time for mac-n-cheese right now. Time to move on.  


A frozen pizza peaked out of the freezer at me, with all of its teenage memories wrapped under its plastic covering. Sleepovers, sports parties and late-night movies that pushed curfew popped into my mind, back from a time when I could eat an entire Tombstone after basketball practice and not even flinch.  


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Stop daydreaming, Emily, I told myself in third person. It's time to get serious about this decision before botany class rips all options from your hands.  


As my choices dwindled I became more desperate. I'm too old to count on someone else cooking for me. The only family that would willingly save me from this dire situation lives hundreds of miles away, and my roommates are nice, but they have their own food dilemmas. 


I could run to Frank's and have a lunch lady help me out. I miss the always-fresh salad bar, never-expired cartons of milk and endless supply of delicious Babcock ice cream. A trip to Frank's would require more cash, a willingness to walk all the way to Lakeshore and a stamp on my forehead proclaiming, I wish I were still a freshman."" Neither of which is the case. 


I could pay someone else to cook for me. Some warm, fattening hand-delivered Chinese food sounds appealing. I could curl up with my favorite blanket, a season of ""Sex and the City,"" some girlfriends and go to town. This also proved impossible: the girlfriends and never-ending time frame of an apartment sleepover were not available. Time ticked by, it's now 1:53. Seven minutes before I need to get my butt out that door. As my options continue to slip by, something grabs me.  


Celery. Creamy peanut butter. Raisins. Yes, the ultimate trio. I smirked to myself as I compiled the delicious combination, dotting the celery with a row of raisins just like my pre-school teacher taught me. Ants on a log never fail to deliver.  


I munched away, remembering climbing on jungle-gyms, making younger kids swear in order to enter the older kids' fort and maturing my taste buds. In the end, the beginning is often the most fitting, comforting and delicious. Sometimes, the beginning makes the best end.  


Longing for lost days of PB&J or frozen pizza? E-mail Emily at and let her know.  

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