Archive for tuna salad

tuna salad

Posted in delicious stories, vague recipes with tags on January 1, 2010 by thatwasdelicious

Weekday lunches were pretty predictable when I was growing up. Bologna with cream cheese sandwiches or olive loaf or peanut butter and jelly, a packet of chips, something sweet, a juice, the usual fare. Weekends were also predictable– pancakes on Saturday and tuna salad sandwiches on Sunday.

Tuna salad sandwiches were always made after church. On Sunday morning my mom would wrangle us out of bed. My dad would work on one set of tangles while my mom would French braid another. There were scratchy tights to be squeezed into and the nice dresses to be pulled on. We would take the small country roads to the church, the last stretch went past the airport were parachuters sometimes were landing and down a narrow lane lined with trees. Some mornings we would spot hot air balloons. For a while, Claire like to say that angels rode in the balloons. The church was small and made from gray stones that insured that the sanctuary was always cool, winter or summer.  There were tall, tall windows that let the light in and eliminated most of the need to light the sanctuary and old red  velvet, threadbare cushions on the oak pews. When I was younger my mom would doodle on pieces of paper to keep me from getting too bored and fidgeting and when I was old enough to read, I would read through the sermons, leaping up when it was time to sing the hymns. When church was over,  I would head down to the spring that was behind the church and if it was warm enough I would pull off tights or socks and go wading in the creek that sprouted from the spring.

When the tithes had been counted (my dad was the treasurer and my sister and I were sometimes allowed to help him count the money) and the church had been locked up, we would drive home, free our legs from tights, pull on jeans, and tromp down to the narrow kitchen were my dad would be making tuna salad.

We had a set of nesting bowls. They were a made from a cloudy, celery green glass. There was a narrow ridge around the top and I like to think that I remember the largest one being used to make Claire’s first birthday cake, or that there is a picture of the medium sized one in a black and white photo my mom took of my dad and their first cat, but I am not sure if those are memories I have made up for myself or if they actually happened. One thing that I do know for sure is that the smallest one was the one that made it through all the moves and was the one that my dad would use to make tuna salad.

First, you have to take a red onion. Finely dice. Then some celery, also finely diced. Open a can of tuna, the kind that is packed with water. Mix the tuna with the celery and the onion. Add mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Mix with a fork. In my memories the scent of the tuna is joined with the sound of the tines of a fork scrapping against the glass bowl. My dad would eat his tuna salad sandwiches on toasted English miffins. I probably ate mine on white bread. Not toasted.

Sometimes I forget that I like tuna salad.  I usually remember when I am in a restaurant and see it on the menu. I never make it for myself. The last tuna salad sandwich I had was after a run in Half Moon Bay. We had gone to see the windy, wild ocean and I had taken a run along the cliffs above the water. The sky was heavy with blue-gray clouds and a strong wind ruffled the feathers of the white herons that stood on the shore. By the time I returned, I was ravenous. My mom, sister, and I  headed into the small town and stopped at the coffee shop. There was a tuna melt on the menu, with cheddar and tomato, so I did that annoying thing where I walked up to the counter and ordered not their tuna melt, I’d like your tuna melt but without the cheddar and tomatoes and with the swiss and cucumbers.

The owners of the coffee shop were obliging and the sandwich was delicious. They had kept their tuna salad simple-onions, celery, not too much mayo. No relish or or mustard or capers that some people like to add. All of that is well and good but when I bite into a tuna salad sandwich, I (most of the time) want it to taste like every other tuna salad sandwich I have eaten.

Familiarity, you can’t beat it.