Remembrance of Chips Past

Go ahead and inhale

Proust had his madeleine, and I have Fritos. Just the smell of these addictive, crunchy corn chips takes me back to my friend Karen’s house, the place I first tasted tuna that wasn’t tricked out with stuff that was good for you.
At my house, the tuna had special additives–celery, radishes, maybe chopped pickles– as well as a big dollop of  Miracle Whip. There might also be scallions or cucumbers thrown into the mix. Garnished with droopy lettuce and drippy tomatoes. In other words: salad. Salad that was spread on rye bread.I could get around the lettuce and tomato, but once that stuff was in the tuna, it was there for good.

My friend lived just up the block from our elementary school, a short enough distance that she had permission to go home for lunch if she wanted to. I got invited to go with her one day. What if there was tuna? Would I have to be polite and eat it?  But when we got to her house, what her mom presented to us didn’t look anything like the tuna sandwiches at my house. For one thing, they were on white bread– most likely Wonderbread. And the tuna was unadulterated. No salad. No lettuce and tomato. No special ingredients. Just tuna, mayo, and bread. And pickles! But these were tiny ones, not the big juicy dills I was used to. I bit into one — my first sweet pickle. It snapped and crunched. Heavenly. But the real pieces de resistance were the bags of corn chips, one apiece. We had sweet, salty, crunchy and chewy right there in front of us.We put chips in our sandwiches, combining textures and tastes to create something that equaled more than the sum of its parts.

Just add chips!

But wait! There was more. We got chocolate milk with our lunch too, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, we each got dessert.

So, so good

I was lucky enough to get invited back for lunch several more times. Her mom made us grilled cheese too. Just plain old American cheese. Chocolate milk, Fritos, pickles. It was always that good, and sometimes it was even better, if we got Hostess cupcakes instead.

A fine dining experience for a couple of little girls who knew how to appreciate the simple things in life.

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