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Tuna a la Dad

October 10, 2010

If you are a regular reader, you too may be a bit taken aback by the outpouring of comments on my little coffee post from Friday.  I know I am.  Wow.

The FLB’s newfound popularity owes itself to the freakish occurrence of getting listed on the front page of WordPress. My plan for Friday had been to write about the whisky that tastes like medicine.  I am so glad that Mrs. Fussy encouraged me to go with the coffee story instead.

Now it has catapulted to become the blog’s most-read post ever, followed by There Will be Brisket, which owed its readership to being mentioned by The Consumerist.

What I am most impressed with is the thoughtfulness of all the comments.  They are inspiring a few more coffee posts in the days to come.  But today I have other important business at hand: my father’s birthday.  Officially, it was yesterday, but I generally don’t post on Shabbos.

Last year I wrote about my father’s soda.
This year is another food memory that is inextricable from my dad.

Now that I am a parent, I know firsthand about the trials and tribulations of packing a school lunch.  It’s not as easy as it sounds to assemble a healthful, balanced and filling meal that will survive the rigors of transit, be eaten cold or at room temperature, and actually be consumed by your child.  Schools with allergy sensitivity programs make this even harder since I am loath to send Young Master Fussy to school with a potentially deadly peanut butter sandwich.

When you find something that works, you tend to send it over and over again.

Luckily when my parents did the same thing to me, I didn’t mind.  For years I had the same sandwich day in and day out.  Tuna salad.  But it wasn’t just any tuna salad, it was my dad’s recipe for tuna salad.

Like the meatloaf and many other of my favorite meals of my childhood, this recipe actually came from my dad’s mother, Nana S.  The secret wasn’t necessarily about the ingredients, because they were all fairly simple.  The secret was in their proportion.

Getting an ideal mix of Bumble Bee solid white tuna, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, sweet relish (the brand escapes me) and lemon juice was always a taste-as-you-go process.  But the finished product was always delightfully tart and bright, punctuated with sweet crunchy bites of relish.

My mom could make it well, but dad made it best.

Honestly the sandwich didn’t always hold up very well.  It would get smushed and mangled over the course of the morning.  Foil wrapping and brown paper bags did not offer much protection from the ravages of my grade school refrigerator.  The best use for this tuna salad was on a tuna melt, on a nice firm piece of toast, nestled under a melted and just browning piece of cheese.

After several years I finally grew weary of this lunch staple, and requested no more tuna sandwiches until future notice.  Amazingly, my parents complied.

Recently, I was visiting my Nana S. and she had some tuna salad in the refrigerator.  It’s not really something I eat these days.  But I took one bite and it immediately brought me back to those days with my dad, as we mixed the stuff together, tasting as we went, to get it just right.

What I’m trying to say is that even though I don’t call my dad as much as I would like, I think of him often and in sometimes unexpected ways.  And even though he worked a lot then, as he continues to do today, the time that we spend together has a deep and meaningful impact.

Happy belated birthday, dad.
I love you.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2010 12:00 pm

    What a wonderful memory, and post.

  2. October 10, 2010 6:42 pm

    As much as I loved your blog post on coffee, I think THIS post is the real winner. Happy birthday to your dad.

  3. October 10, 2010 6:43 pm

    As much as I loved your blog post about coffee, I think THIS post is the real winner. Happy birthdy to your dad!

  4. October 10, 2010 7:45 pm

    This was a nice post :)

    Proportions and ratios are, I think, 90% of the work a lot of the time. That sounds really obvious, but it’s the difference between the world worst sandwich and the best. And it’s one of those things that seems really linked to individuals–I’ve almost got my mom’s dressing of a salad down, but not quite (I’m heavy-handed with the lemon).

    And speaking of salad, my mom used to send me to school with neat little containers of salad and dressing. I remember one kid sneering and asking if I was a vegetarian. I just loved salad, and was sick of sandwiches.

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