Sandwich Memories

It seems I’ve written quite a bit about sandwiches over the years.  They were the subject of one of my earliest (and surviving) blog posts.

Fionas Favourite open sandwiches
Open sandwiches – 2014

Given that a sandwich is food – a filling – wrapped up – or between two slices of some sort of bread – I really have. Quite something given that about five years ago, I stopped eating bread:  commercial bread, anyway.  That’s a story for another time.

First memorable sandwich

My first real sandwich memory goes back to 1969 and my first day at school.  I think it’s memorable because, actually, the sandwich was not. Memorable.  I think.  That January morning, at mid-morning break, I opened my square, yellow lunch box and found a Fray Bentos sandwich.  I remember sitting by myself on the “playground” which was a tarmacadam tennis court.  I didn’t really know what was expected of me.

I heard a cacophony, not wanting to join in and retreated into my lunch box.

In it:  a single slice of white bread, cut in half and then cut again, into two squares.  Fray Bentos – with butter or margarine – on white bread – was my most frequent tea time snack for the next eight years.  The only variation was after we moved to Grahamstown.  In late summer, the garden produced a glut of tomatoes.  Soggy white bread and warm slices of tomato were not an improvement on Fray Bentos.

Boarding School

Going to boarding school introduced me to sandwiches of an entirely different sort.

Last year, at the behest of a school mate, I wrote about a tuck shop favourite. I alluded to the sandwiches that we boarders would get each day.  I specifically mentioned the egg sandwiches which were my favourite:  grated, with salt and pepper and on fresh brown bread.  My mouth is watering now, as I think about them.  They were a definite improvement on the Fray Bentos sandwiches.  In her defense, my mother probably slapped them together either the night before, after cooking dinner or after we moved to Grahamstown, as she cooked the family breakfast.

Of the variety of sandwiches we got at boarding school – different every day – my least favourite was peanut butter.  Just. No.  I’m not a peanut butter girl.  I’m not a fan of peanuts, period.  When they “happened” and, I admit, it wasn’t often, I just gave them a miss and/or happily passed them on to someone who lurved them.

More white bread

Still at boarding school, with seniority came certain privileges.  One of these was leave to leave the school property and walk either to the local bakery or to the hospital kiosk.  The latter was closer, but the bread wasn’t quite the same as from the Prem(ier Bakery).  We knew exactly what time it came out of the oven and if we timed it right, we could make it back to the hostel while the bread was still warm.  Back in the boarding house, armed with butter or margarine (I don’t remember which) and bags of salt and vinegar chips (crisps), we’d sit on our beds and make sandwiches.  They were out-of-this-world-delicious.  And crummy.  We did not care.

Truthfully, I have, in my adulthood been known to buy a sandwich with a packet of crisps and then proceed to open the sandwich and add the crisps.  Always salt and vinegar.  Only salt and vinegar.  For the crunch, you understand.

Back seat

After leaving school and at university, sandwiches didn’t feature. At. All.  Nor in my early working years until I worked for a company that had no canteen.  For a while, the tea lady, as a side line, made toasted sandwiches for the staff.  I remember their being delicious.  I remember, too, that that was the first time that I began to make soup.  Not like my mother’s.  Another story for another time.  Perhaps.

Twenty years of Lunch (mostly) sandwiches

When I started working from home – now more years than most people would like to contemplate – a sandwich was the logical, quick, on the run food.  Oh, but before that, and when I lived alone, bread and open sandwiches were essential for survival.  Toast and avocado remain one of my favourites.  For a while, I was lucky to work with someone who had an avocado farm.  For that year, I lived on avocado on toast.  It was never boring.  It would have been even more exciting had I discovered Mexican flavours and chilli.  However, in 1989, cuisines of the world were less known – an popular – than they are now. That said, I still love plain avocado, with a fresh slice of bread and butter, salt and freshly ground blace pepper  and Worcestershire sauce.  Also, incidentally, one of my Dad’s favourites.

Favourite unconventional sandwiches

Sandwiches cover a multitude of sins.

Fat cake

curry fat cake
Curried Vetkoek

Another favourite and not often indulged in – although we may… is the vetkoek.  It’s a traditional leavened dough that’s deep-fried and stuffed.  Often with curried meat.  It’s another tuck shop favourite from school.  It’s an iconic local streetfood.  It’s delicious.  The last time I ate one, was the day I got the jab was just last night.

At a farewell for Swiss swallows who’ll return for the summer later this year.

Flatbreads, buns and wraps

When I really applied my mind, I realised that we eat a lot of sandwiches – if I stretch the definition.

asian slaw, hummus, flatbread, naan
Flat bread with hummus and Asian slaw

Flat, or naan bread is a frequent menu item.

Then there are my tortilla trials.

Last but not least, the buns.

broad bean burger, sourdough, vegetarianSince I began my sourdough journey and I bake buns for the market, it’s an excuse to eat the iconic sandwich:  the burger.   I also make the patties: plant and meat-based.  The latter’s recipe a work in progress.  When I post it, I’ll edit this add the link here.

Musings about memories

I had not thought much about my school lunches until sandwich memories came up as a topic.  I also had not realised how indelible a memory that first-day-at-school sandwich was.  That memory was the first thing that jumped into my head. It’s a memory that makes me neither happy nor sad; I just remember it.  Perhaps it’s more about feeling overwhelmed in that playground.  In the crowd but not part of it.  It’s a feeling that’s persisted for most of my life.  Again, neither happy, nor sad but rather just the way it is.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post script

I am participating in @traciyork‘s twice-yearly Hive Blog Posting Month.

If this post might seem familiar, it’s because I’m doing two things:

  • re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I am adding them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine….?
  • and “re-capturing” nearly two years’ worth of posts.

I blog to the Hive blockchain using a number of decentralised applications.

  • From WordPress, I use the Exxp WordPress plugin. If this rocks your socks, click here or on on the image below to sign up.

  • Join Hive using this link and then join us in the Silver Bloggers’ community by clicking on the logo.
Original artwork: @artywink
  • lastly, graphics are created using partly my own photographs and Canva.




Anyone for eggs?

I have always loved eggs. As a little girl, I loved eating Dad’s scrambled eggs; of course I had had my own, but they were much nicer when I perched on his knee, eating them off his plate. He loved his eggs on buttery toast and topped with a good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. Another “egg” memory associated with Dad, and which I’ve mentioned before, is my (actually Dad….) bidding for the winning egg and succeeding, at the Gonubie Agricultural Show. I guess those eggs must have been quite expensive in the grand scheme of things. Why was I besotted with those particular eggs? I have no idea, except that they were generally a beautiful white, not the brown we are used to, now.  And always double yolkers.Double yolk eggs

Eggs feature quite a bit on our menu;  fortunately, we both could eat them for breakfast, lunch and supper!    There was a time when an egg-rich diet was considered potentially dangerous.  Not so, nowadays, and for two key reasons, it seems:  they don’t contain “bad” cholesterol, and it would appear that there are now even questions about whether cholesterol is the consequence of too much unsaturated fat.  Adding fuel to this fire is the move to a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet – people are Banting bonkers at the moment.  I’m not knocking it as I have been leaning in that general direction for a while…

Eggs are an essential ingredient in many things we eat, often without realising it, for example mayonnaise,  cakes and cookies, rich pastries and of course, in custards, including the savoury custard in a quiche. My home made pasta is egg-rich.  So, we eat eggs, often, and not just for breakfast.


Over the weekend, have sort of a ritual.  I loathe early mornings and am virtually non-functional, so what needs to be done must be done in “auto pilot”.  On a Saturday, because there is no alarm, things are a little more leisurely, but we still need to be at the McGregor pop-up market, and set up by nine o’clock,  so our day begins without breakfast.Speckeldy EggAfter the market, we get home and unpack the bakkie (also known, depending on where you live, as a pick-up or ute), and Tom does breakfast: soft boiled eggs, toast and coffee.  He’s a real egg-boiling pro, and if the batch of eggs contains a speckled one – it’s always mine!  The speckled egg is another throwback to my childhood and Alison Uttley’s wonderful stories about Grey Rabbit and Speckeld Hen;  stories that my granny read to us when she visited South Africa in 1969 into 1970.  A “speckeldy” egg always gets me clucking with childlike delight!

Sunday is a whole different ball game; breakfast is the full catastrophe! Fried egg, beautiful, homemade bacon, fried tomato, mushroom, brinjal, potato… And, needless to say, toast or croissant, and coffee. We love our Sunday brunch which, weather permitting, we usually eat on our lovely, sunny veranda.


So, if that was breakfast, what about lunch, you ask.  Well, ever since I was a tot, a favourite sandwich was egg mayonnaise – it still is.  I even enjoyed the ones we got at boarding school!  There can be few things more delicious than lovely fresh bread, hard boiled egg, grated and mixed with home made mayonnaise, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Jazz that up with some fresh parsley, a lettuce leaf and some sliced tomato, and you have a feast!

But you don’t have to stop there:  firm, but not quite hard-boiled eggs (so that the yolk is not quite cooked and a lovely rich, orange colour), added to a green salad are delicious, on a hot summer’s day.

On a cooler day, here’s a thought:  poached eggs on freshly picked spinach, wilted, with tomatoes, topped with a dollop of cottage cheese, grilled.  Fresh fennel goes well with all of these components, so I use it both as a garnish and as an element in the meal – with or without lovely crusty bread.Poached eggs on spinachAbout poaching eggs:  make sure that your eggs are as fresh as possible, and add a little vinegar to the water when you cook them.  Once they’re cooked to your taste, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a cloth (not paper towel – it sticks to the egg and is hard to get off).  Allow them to drain for a little while – there is nothing worse than a poached egg that deposits puddles of water over your plate!


A regular supper, one night during the week, has egg as the main protein, in one form or another: an omelette, a Spanish Omelette, a frittata, or a quiche, accompanied by a garden salad.  A two-egg omelette, with a filling of your choice, which includes cheese, is a really filling and easy meal.100_3048If you’re nervous about folding an omelette, and other than practice, my technique is to make sure that I use a pan that is the right size, and I don’t believe anything is non-stick, so I always add a knob of butter and olive oil.  Don’t overheat the pan….  Once the eggs are in the pan, don’t fiddle with them until you see that the edges are cooking.  Then, with a small egg lifter, draw a little egg towards the centre and allow the runny egg to flow out to the edge.  Once the egg is mostly cooked, add your filling – on one side and then gently lift the other over it.

Another tip about folding omelettes over their fillings:  make sure that you have the pan handle at nine o’clock.  Put the filling on the same side, between twelve and six o’clock.  Then you can comfortably hold the pan and gently lift the other side of the omelette over the filling, and then slide it onto a warm plate.  If you’re left handed, do it the other way round, i.e. have the handle at three o’clock, etc…

Have a look at another supper that includes eggs, cooked in a tomato sauce….




Eating to Live

Friday, 18 July 2014, in McGregor dawned:  a cold, blustery morning.  It was also the first Mandela Day since his death in December 2013;  he would have been 95.  Later that day I was  heading down to our local community service centre (aka the police station) to join a sandwich drive.

This, juxtaposed with my my rant, the previous evening, about dieting fads and food foibles, got me thinking about how privileged I am, to be able not just to have the pleasure of cooking, but of food, in all its glory, when there are people, literally down the road, who do eat to live – when they can.

2014-07-18 13.09.43


For the last two years, a young McGregorite has organised this initiative.  This must have taken Mira much more than just the 67 minutes she asked of us to give, to organise.



18 July 2014 2

So, a bunch of us, of all colours and creeds, from all walks of life, gathered at around 11h00, to make sandwiches.

By about 11h45, this happy band of volunteers had made this huge mound of sandwiches to go with the soup that came from Lord’s Guest Lodge.


I didn’t just join the sandwich drive, I also joined the convoy to deliver the sandwiches and soup.  First, to the Breede Centre which runs a holiday programme of for local children, then on to the informal settlement and the poorest parts of our village.



The sandwiches and hot soup, along with the treats made a difference – at least for a short while.


For me, there was also a weird moment.  There was a time that it would have been inconceivable that I would set foot in a police station to be part of a community initiative:  the police represented the oppressors and meted out their orders.  These orders were usually punitive and harsh;  they certainly did not include feeding people in informal settlements.

Much remains to be done in our country and village of poor and plenty, but that I, and my fellow sandwich-makers were able to comfortably join this initiative, is a consequence of Nelson Mandela who gave 67 years of selfless service.  Halala, Tata.