We all have had several: start with roast turkey breast, slice it thin and top the cuts with lettuce, tomato, and a slice of cheddar. Sandwich the ingredients between halves of a puffy, white flour roll, knife into halves, flank with crispy, plain potato chips, and garnish with a dill spear. It’s the all-American lunch, and I have been eating it almost daily since I was old enough to bring a brown sack to school.
How then can a lunch so plain, so run-of-the-mill, so every-day-of-the-week transform itself into the glorious perfection that presented itself to me at the general store in Strasburg, Pennsylvania?
Never have turkey slices seemed so juicy, so plump, so seasoned. Never have potato chips exploded in my mouth with such satisfying crunch. Never has the vinegary tang of a simple pickle spear stood so many taste buds on end at once. From first chomp to last crunch, the experience was idyllic — indeed a mouthful of the heavens themselves.
How can that be?
Had I assembled the same cuts of meat, the exact slices of cheese, the identical wedges of veggies between two halves of a carbon-copy kaiser roll, and eaten the result during my half-hour lunch break, you wouldn’t be reading this pontification.
The simple answer is that vacation, whether in the form of BlinkPacking, extended journeying, pitching a tent, or roughing it at the Hilton, makes ordinary food taste great. Much more than an associative phenomenon, I like to believe that being away from life’s toils and stresses allows us to heal, to tune into the senses, indeed to come alive. At home, food can become a mere means to a full belly. While away, there is time to savor each morsel of food, to explore the tastes and textures, to delight in the brilliance of even the simplest of pleasures.
So plan a trip now. Put it on the calendar. And while away, order yourself a humble sandwich, and realize for the first time just how good it is.