Ham Sandwiches y Románticas / Thursday Lunch

Ham Sandwiches y Románticas by Joanna

My mother would bring me a special lunch when I was in elementary school and I recently asked her why she would do this and she replied “because you asked me to.” Honestly, I don’t remember if I did or didn’t but I do remember being called to the office and picking up a brown paper bag with my name on it “Yoanita,” and opening it up to find a beautiful ham sandwich with a side of red apples tossed in lemon and salt. The ham sandwich was constructed of a sliced sesame seed bread from a Jewish bakery located in the Fairfax district; a beautiful bundle of green romaine lettuce, muenster cheese, and a generous dollop of mayo.

What made this sandwich so special however, was the ham. It was a marbled deli cut from a little Cuban market in our neighborhood called “El Caney” on Maplewood. My mother would get a pound or two to make my dad sandwiches for work and the ham would be sliced big and thin and wrapped up in bright pink butcher paper. I miss that little market. It’s where I first fell in love with Spanish love songs. You’d take a number at the counter and wait patiently as Los Bukis or Los Temerarios or Juan Gabriel played in the background. The butchers would sometimes sing along and smile at my mother and I would curiously press my hands up against the glass and stare at the cow tongues and pigs feet, humming along to the chorus of every song.

While this gorgeous ham was reserved for my father, every now and then I’d get lucky and my mom would bring me this special lunch. Perhaps it’s the rain outside that’s making me think of those vibrant colors or the thought of my mother and her tenderness that has me a little teary eyed and wrapped in nostalgia.

Thursday Lunch by Marilyn

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The first week of a new job always reminds me of eating lunch alone in my car or just awkwardly making small talk in the lunch room with these new people in my life while I discreetly, or sometimes shamelessly, try to look at what they’re eating. Everyone is curious about the new person. Do they have kids? How old are they? Are they married? While these questions got thrown at me with no speed limit what was going through my head was “If wine was allowed at lunch would being the new person feel less awkward? “

I still wish wine at lunch was acceptable but now my lunches with co workers are a necessary part of my happiness, it is no longer awkward. I look forward to Thursday when we are all guaranteed to be at the office. Our job is not a typical 9-5, thank god! We work all over the city and sometimes don’t even make it into the office. But on Thursday, we all know that we will see each other. Some of us wear our Sunday ’s best and we all excitedly go into the office to catch up. We discuss politics, relationships, fashion, needs, fears, desires and everything that comes to mind, usually with little to no filter. And yes we also get work done because we are badass.

It always seems to turn into a potluck. Sometimes on purpose, to celebrate a birthday, and sometimes spontaneous because we just enjoy sharing our food. We cater to each others needs like “no onion” “no meat” “weird texture” and through our Thursday lunch we’ve traveled the world and learned about each other on a deeper level. We are now a family.

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