Let me talk (write) about something more American than Uncle Sam himself: Peanut Butter. Yes, I will be singing its praises. Yes, me, an Argentinean, straight from Dulce-de-Lecheland, writing about how great PB is. Hopefully you feel curious now, don’t you? Keep reading, then.
I can’t even remember when did I make the “peanut butter = USA” association, but it’s been in my head ever since. In 1999, when I visited the US for the first time, almost the first thing I wanted to do (and I did it in my very first day here) was try peanut butter. We bought a jar of it (I have no idea which brand it was), I tried less than a spoonful of it (no toast, no jelly, no banana, nothing) and decided it was no worth the whole spoonful. [In case you’re wondering why did I think that PB out of the jar was a good idea, that’s what we do when we pig out on dulce de leche. I can eat several spoonfuls of it. The guilt kicks in before I can feel it’s too sweet]
So after my 10-day vacation in the US, I went back to Buenos Aires convinced that PB was an American mistake. And I didn’t think much more about that. And ten years went by. I still had dulce de leche in my life, so I didn’t need much more.
In 2009 I came back, this time for 2.5 months. The day we got to Gainesville, FL, our “driver” (he was a graduate student at UF, and his advisor sent him to pick us up at the Orlando airport) took us to Publix for some grocery shopping (if you don’t know what Publix is, you’ve probably never bought groceries in FL). As a welcome present, he got us a jar of Jif PB. Yucks! It was so salty! Much saltier than my memory of PB! I decided I didn’t like PB, it was just a bad American idea.
When I went back home, I had to take PB for a friend of mine. She liked it (specially when combined with dulce de leche, which I have to admit is a great, as well as liver-killing, combination). It was around that time when Nico and I began the argument “PB: yay or nay”. He was all for the yay; he said that not many things can beat a good toast with PB and berry preserves. I didn’t know then how right he was.
Luckily, I didn’t have to wait another ten years to give PB another chance. Nico was right: Jif is on the yucky side. I got to try good PB and learned to love it. Is it an acquired taste? For sure. Is that something bad? Not at all. Does this mean I don’t like dulce de leche anymore? WHAT??!! First of all, they don’t compare; dulce de leche is a dessert in itself, while PB is more versatile. And keep in mind that for me, dulce de leche is not only delicious: it tastes like home. So let’s just not mix things here, okay? I’m talking about how I learned to love PB. Dulce de Leche is in another (higher) level. And it will forever be.
So, what have I learned about PB? It’s delicious, and it lets you make lunch in 5 minutes. This is probably one of the biggest signs of my americanization. No only I really enjoy PB; I have packed a PB sandwich for my dinner tomorrow (we can discuss why do I have to have dinner at work on another post. No, I’m not a workaholic, thank you very much). Let me repeat this, in case you’ve missed it: I’m having a PB sandwich for dinner tomorrow, and it’s not a punishment, it’s not my last resort; I decided it was a great idea, because it’s like having a treat for dinner. Yes, PB has made it to the “treat” category.
I remember watching several movies where people would have a PB (+ something) sandwich for lunch. I think that in Dan in real life they make PB & J and also PB and banana sandwiches when packing lunch. I was dumbfounded: sweet for lunch? That sounded more like a breakfast food to me! (think about it: in this country, people have omelettes for breakfast, when those are clearly a lunch food, and then have PB&J for lunch, which is a breakfast food! nonsensical). It took me almost two years of living here and seeing people have PB sandwiches for lunch to come to terms with it. From that to embracing PB sandwiches there was only a small step. And I took it. There is no coming back now. I’ve americanized myself a bit more. Good thing I still have my accent to tell the world that even though I’m a white-bottomed, PB-sandwich-eating person, I am not from here. But I’m sure some could be fooled if I don’t talk while I take my PB on whole wheat sandwich out of my lunch bag. Can a foreigner get more American than that? Oh, yeah, sometimes I do that while wearing my MSU hoodie. If I looked any younger I’d pass for an undergrad. Shame on me.