March 4, 2010
You would never think that spending time with beloved family could be in any way stressful. For the last ten days of every month, I call St Paul, Minnesota, home. I visit my son and his family including my grandchildren: M, my five-year-old and L my four-year-old. L is moderately brave and even agreed to try an oyster till it was six inches from her mouth and then the full quivering, dripping horror struck her and she screamed in the middle of the restaurant. M is a Pandora's box of inspection. He will rear back with narrowed eyes and demand a full account of every ingredient in the food set before him. Then, not satisfied by half, he'll bring his head down to within inches of the offending item and sing out, "I see black pepper Granda-ma and what's that green speck?" He has appropriated the word speck as I am constantly saying, "Darling, it's parsley, a TINY SPECK, it's NOTHING." So, in order to bring the joy back into eating, I have resorted to tea sandwiches. Apparently if a tomato seed, cucumber peel, or a raisin is wearing bread, it can be consumed. Then there are the "hors d'oeuvres" as we call carrot sticks, spirals of turkey and Jarlsberg, celery bites filled with vegetable cream cheese, and cucumber slices with tiny cubes of Cheddar cheese on top. All these, plus red, orange, and yellow pepper spears (offered in three little glass votives) to dip into hummus are considered the height of pre-school cool. I have brought the New York Napkin into play. A paper towel tucked into the neck of their t-shirts a la Grand Central Oyster Bar, completes hors d'oeuvres time. (But now we are doing a New York Tie, i.e. a paper towel torn in half, as we are starting on saving the world.) Here are M and L's most popular tea sandwiches: 1. American cheese (one step at a time) and mango chutney 2. Tomato, lettuce, BASIL (!), and homemade mayo 3. Ham (that's all folks) and salted butter 4. Roast beef and potato chips 5. Chicken and crisp bacon with ketchup 6. Mozzarella and apricot jam (usually grilled) We make the sandwiches together, using Pepperidge Farm Very Thin white or whole-wheat bread. We wrap them in plastic wrap so they hold together well, and refrigerate. Then after an hour or so, unwrap, cut off the crusts, and cut each sandwich into four squares or triangles, or six little fingers. To what lengths will you and your children's Grandmas go, to get them to eat?
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