Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Today in Food: Elvis Would Be 74

January 8th, 2009 · 2 Comments

It’s the King’s birthday — he would have been 74 years old. I can’t quite picture that one and prefer to remember him as the teen idol of the ’50s, dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock. Keith Richards just turned 65, and he looks enbalmed. Elvis might have been just as frightening.

If you want to get in on some tribute stuff to He-of-One-Name, and help out Hospice at the same time, get to Lake Worth tonight, where there are a number of bands performing at South Shore Tavern. Johnny Ray, our local star E impersonator, hosts. It starts at 5:30 on Lucerne Avenue across from the Lake Worth Library.

Back to the food angle: Elvis’s penchant for peanut butter and banana sandwiches was well known.

Bananas on sandwiches are uniquely Southern. To this, I can personally attest. After a particularly rich wine dinner of more than seven courses at a food editor’s function in New York had me yearning for one simple comfort food for lunch the next day: A banana sandwich. I was staying in a chic-chic hotel near Central Park. Its restaurant wasn’t a probable choice for my craving — I had to go elsewhere.

I went into a small deli where I had been buying coffee each morning. I scouted out the crowd, lined up and ordering sandwiches and drinks. I looked around: they had bananas, bread and mayo. I was all set.

My turn came to order and I asked for a banana sandwich. The guy leaned over the counter and said, “Sorry?” I repeated the order, a bit louder. That brought some interesting looks from the line, and a hearty laugh from the sandwicih maker. “Oh, you want a banana and a sandwich? What kind of sandwich?”

“No, I want the banana IN the sandwich. With mayo. Whole wheat bread.” I was slightly fearful he was going to stick a whole banana, peel and all, on the bread. He nodded sideways and shrugged slightly. “I’ve never made a banana sandwich before.”

I smiled and explained it was comfort food where I came from. “We eat falafel where I come from,” he said. “Here, everybody wants corned beef or pastrami.”

I had to walk him through slicing the banana properly — into rounds, not lengthwise into strips — but after that, he was my buddy, and even threw in a bag of chips since I was the novelty of his day. I would return once again to the deli during this trip and get another one. This time, he was ready for me.

“Get out of the way — I know this one!” he yelled to the new perplexed worker who took my order. “Make into rounds and just a little mayo but on both breads!” He was quite pleased to remember the technique.

I’m sure I would have sent him into a tailspin had I told him to add peanut butter, a la Elvis. The King’s version also was grilled. I have other friends, and not all are Southern, who like a banana sandwich with peanut butter and potato chips, or peanut butter and bacon.

Those all sound weird, but considering the chocolate-covered bacon I saw for sale in Marini’s candy shop at the Santa Cruz Pier, I get it. The counter server there said “It’s weird at first, but after a while, it really does taste good. I think it’s the combination of sweet and salty and crunchy and a little fat, too.” Novelty or otherwise, it’s one of their top sellers and they were already sold out of it when I was there at 2 p.m.

I didn’t rush to get it.

Tags: Today in the World of Food

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 ksteinhoff // Jan 8, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    When I was a shooter on the road, I never knew what kind of motel food craving I’d have. You know how it is, some nights you crave sweets and others you want something salty.

    My solution was to pack a bag of almond M&Ms and a bag of barbecued pork rinds.

    Of course, there were some nights I couldn’t make up my mind and I’d mix ’em. One M&M to two pork rinds is about the right ratio.

  • 2 Ben // Jan 13, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Wish I had known about this, I am a huge Elvis fan!

    In my kitchen, I have a little spiral bound flip recipe book with all of Elvis’ favorite recipes — meatloaf, pecan pie, etc.

    Long live The King!

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