Pop and I went out to lunch after I took him to all of his appointments. I ordered my favorite sandwich, BLT. Every time I get a BLT I am transported back in time to when I was between 2 and 3 years old.
It was a hot summer, Mom was pregnant, we were visiting her Uncle Joe and his wife Aunt Susanna (Suzi), on her father's side in Manayunk. I remember trudging up a hill in the heat and walking by a beautiful garden which belonged to Uncle Joe and Aunt Suzi . It had gorgeous tomatoes and peppers, vegetables and fruits. When we arrived at the house, Aunt Suzi swept me up in her arms and told my mother that she wanted me to sing for her. I knew all the songs on the radio and used to entertain all of the women at bridal and baby showers. Then she asked me if I wanted to eat something. I said no. She asked me if I wanted a BLT. I told her I didn't know what that was. My mother shook her head no. Aunt Suzi looked at me and pronounced me too skinny.
"Never had BLT? You like bacon?"
"You like tomato?"
"You like lettuce?"
"Then you like BLT!"
She took me into her kitchen which was immaculate, cool and dark. A wonderful smell of basil drifted in from the open window. She perched me on a stool, told me to sing, and began dancing while she fried up the bacon. She took the biggest, juiciest tomato I had ever seen from the bowl on the counter and began slicing it. She took the fresh lettuces from her garden and popped two thick slices of the best rye bread I have ever tasted into her toaster. Within minutes she had assembled the BLT with a dash of freshly ground pepper and a small basil leaf tucked into the slabs of tomato. A generous helping of mayo finished off this magnificent creation, and she produced a fabulous kosher dill pickle from somewhere in her kitchen.
"Marianna, BLT. Mangia!"
Then she poured me a glass of icy Coke, because, as she later told my mother, "Coke is good with BLT!" That sandwich was as large as my face.
My mother came into the kitchen and saw me eating that huge sandwich. Aunt Suzi smiled at my mom and said, "See? BLT! Everybody love BLT, even this one. Give her BLT. She won't be skinny any more."
I have drooled over that sandwich ever since. My first BLT at a tender age of 2 and a half to 3. A treasured experience in a wonderful kitchen with a woman I thought was ancient (but wasn't) who had a zest for life, sparkling eyes, and knew how to make the best BLT on the planet! I was blessed! To this day, I make a great BLT, and yes, you should have a fabulous pickle from the barrel and an icy Coke to go with it!