If you see my colleague Jo Parker striding toward you with a jar of peanut butter - beware. Chances are, she's got a Vidalia onion hidden somewhere on her person, and she's gonna try to make you eat these things together on bread.
She means well, and she's just trying to spread the love of a childhood favorite. As Jo wrote to me, "The cool, crunchy sweetness of Vidalias pairs terrifically with the peanuttiness. Smooth or crunchy – up to you. I remember eating these as a girl in Illinois, but I really don’t know the sandwich’s pedigree."
Now, most people would be content to enjoy their idiosyncratic creation behind closed doors. A strange sandwich is a private pleasure, borne of tradition, unsupervised youthful experimentation, between-paycheck thrift or, let's face it, coming home wicked hammered and having the wherewithal the next morning to recall an effective combination of ingredients.
These are not sandwiches that are served to unsuspecting guests at dinner parties, or even shared between bedfellows. They are perhaps admitted to and laughed about amongst friends, but the enjoyment is almost inevitably a solitary one - if not swaddled in the semi-dark of a midnight kitchen, then at a table, surrounded by loved ones who are openly, if often affectionately, mocking your culinary quirks.
If you're brave enough to admit to your likings in public, you will become an anecdote. "My college roommate used to eat...my Dad always used to have this nasty...I dated this guy who used to fix himself..."
Jo Parker fears not this judgment. Her conviction holds firm. She claims, "I’ve been at parties where peanut butter combinations have been discussed. When I bring up PBnO, the reactions are predictable. Someone will make a gagging sound. Someone will beg me to tell them I’m not serious."
She puts her money where the naysayers mouths are. "And usually there is one brave person who will say, 'I don’t think so, but maybe I’d try it.' And if the host has the magic ingredient - real Vidalias - I have been known to raid a pantry for peanut butter and bread and make samples on the spot. Hors d’oeuvres, if you will. Most try a bite, and I usually get at least one convert."
Keep spreading the gospel of the PBnO, Jo Parker. There's someone out there who is bound to think it's nutty enough to work.
Please share your strangest sandwich favorites in the comments below.