I have not seen ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat, but I have heard from fellow ABCs–American Born Chinese–that they find familiarity in Eddie Huang’s childhood experiences. One scene shows Eddie navigating his school lunchroom. The cool kids invite Eddie to sit with them, but when he twists open his tupperware container revealing some kind of Asian noodles, the kids plug their noses and shriek, “What is that?”
Ah, the elementary school cafeteria–a place where poignant lessons are learned. Perhaps for many ABCs of my generation, it was a place where we learned that we are different, or at least that others will insist on our differences. We also learned that we cannot share or trade our favorite foods with our friends because cha siu bao looks bloody, and everything else we like is stinky.
The lunchroom was also the place where I learned about Lunchables, HoHos, Twinkies, and the peanut butter and banana sandwich. Like Eddie, I begged my parents to buy me ‘white people lunches’. While I thought Lunchables were the coolest, my parents thought they were gross and refused to purchase them, which I am now thankful. Now I don’t care for HoHos and Twinkies, but there is one item that my white friends from grade school ate that I have come to enjoy: the peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Sweet, nutty, soft, and so easy to make, the PB&B was a welcome discovery. It’s beauty is in its simplicity. And there’s something nostalgic about it that brings me back to that grade school moment when I intently observed my classmate using a spoon to slice bananas onto a piece of peanut-buttered bread.
I have a pack of dried, flattened bananas from Trader Joe’s in my pantry, and used them to bring a slightly new twist to this old school lunch.