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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Remembering childhood with simple BLT

By Paul Suplee,

Reprint from Dec. 15, 2022

Sometimes it pays to keep it simple.

As I had written a few weeks ago about Anton Ego’s ratatouille and my own childhood reminiscence with Chef Kern’s souse (reminding me of my dear old dad), it can be the simplest of things that take us back to a bygone era in our minds.

It is important that all of us “elders” stick to our guns and retell the tales of our lives as time moves forward.

Unfortunately, if we don’t, things will be forgotten.

Sharing only helps to fortify the memories of earlier days and years. Whether it’s remembering sitting at a table with 10 people every day for dinner (I am the youngest of eight children), or being relegated to the kid’s table at Thanksgiving, shunned from proper company because I was 6, these are all amazing and relevant memories that I wish never to forget.

When I was around that ripe age of 6, I would run into the kitchen after dropping my books in the foyer after a grueling day of school and pop a pan on the stove.

That was my mom’s queue (her jewelry workshop was in the basement and when she heard that, she knew she would have to intercept).

She used to tell me that by the time she got to the top of the stairs, I already had the pan heating, and the butter, eggs and milk out to make some scrambled eggs for myself.

I imagine that I had the seasonings out and lined up as well, but that could be a touch of revisionism on my part. I won’t claim that to be true.

A first-grader. What in the world?

I’m still not sure how I never burnt the house down, but that close-call award goes to my brother who decided to try smoking cigarettes out back. Luckily, the damage was not bad at all as I recall, but I’m pretty sure that he got in a lot of trouble for that.

As the years went on, it was only natural that I would gravitate to cooking as a career.

Luckily, I had parents who shared my sick and ill-advised dreams so I followed my passion and continued on to accomplish a fair number of things.

Throughout the accomplishments, the good times and bad, the achievements and the losses and everything else that life throws at so many of us, it is safe to say that I have changed.

My children have changed. That is the very natural growth and progression of life, and we either embrace it or allow it to eat us alive.

As circumstances change, they leave us uncertain as to the future, and it really is up to us to take the next step, which in this case is as easy as taking a break and making a BLT.

No, a sandwich won’t pay your bills or fix all of your problems, but it can sure put a smile on your face when you take that first bite.

I could easily have written about a peanut butter, banana and Fluffer Nutter sandwich on Wonder Bread and it would have had the same effect. These were my go-tos as a kid; my must-haves after my boss (teacher) grilled me about missing my deadline (not doing my homework). I already had the worker’s mindset and I was six.

Through it all, I learned to progress my skills beyond these simple sandwiches, but I would not trade the memories for anything.

They represent where I was as a child, and sometimes our mind just runs with the simplicity of a delicious sandwich takes us away to a different time. Yes we have changed, and yes we can never truly be like we were, but we can always have our moment.

As Tom Wait so famously wrote, “It was a train that took me away from here, but a train can’t bring me home.


Makes 4 sandwiches (or 2 mean sized ones)

8 slices multi-grain bread (white bread if you’re a traditionalist)

1# Good quality bacon

8 slices good quality tomato (buy hot house this time of year)

1 head romaine lettuce, cleaned

As much Mayo as you think you need

  • We have to talk about the choice of bread, whether to toast or not and of course the type of bacon, so saddle up
  • When I was growing up, it was Wonder Bread, untoasted, no exception. Now I like multigrain (not plain wheat) with a lot of mayonnaise
  • Toasting is 100 percent up to you.
  • Bacon comes in many forms. Look for a thick cut, unless you like it crumbly and overly crispy; then go for the thin. Also, try to look for nitrate- and nitrite-free so that at least you can pretend that it’s healthy
  • I prefer to cook my bacon in the oven. Much less grease splattering, a more even cooking throughout and simply more control over the whole process
  • Bake at 350F on a lined or sprayed baking pan until done. Some people like it crumbly, while folks like me prefer it to feel cooked but still tender
  • Remove and drain. Now, mayonnaise as a rule acts to ‘waterproof’ the bread, preventing it from getting overly soggy. So, schmear some mayo on the top and bottom pieces and build your sandwich
  • Serve immediately

Paul Suplee is the owner of Boxcar40 in Pittsville
and senior lecturer of culinary arts at UMES.