It had never occurred to me that my childhood comfort food and lifelong cheap source of a quick, delicious, and easy-to-make sandwich was not shared universally. I’d been hanging around the common area of the hostel I was staying at in Nairobi talking with two new friends I’d made, both from England. We’d begun a conversation about the perfect food for overnight busses when I brought up how perfect PB&J sandwiches were, also adding a tribute to their taste. As I was describing this I naturally assumed I’d be met with general consensus so when the immediate response was, “Ew, peanut butter and jam? That’d be gross!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I simply had not thought it possible that a peanut butter and jam sandwich was not a universally recognized quick meal, or for that matter something people thought was gross.
For me, a peanut butter and jam sandwich is so simple. Bread, peanut butter, and jam. The textures work together perfectly and in the end your left with a satisfying feeling in your belly. But no, apparently this combination is simply weird, something unusual. I propped a little further to find that neither had ever had a PB&J sandwich, and weren’t interested in the prospect. What had they eaten when low on groceries nearing exam periods? When they had just finished a day of public school and were looking for an afternoon snack? When their stomach was upset and they just wanted something simple and delicious that would not keep things turning? I felt betrayed, confused, lost. However, I also felt that I now had a purpose, that these two friends I’d made had been kept in the dark about the wonders of the PB&J sandwich, and that it was my job to formally introduce them. So I’ve decided that my next meeting with these two will include a shared meal of peanut butter sandwiches, and I’m convinced there is absolutely no way they will not be enjoyed!