The best thing since sliced bread: thinly sliced bread


My youngest sister is getting married in a few weeks. And I’m the matron of honor.

So my fellow bridesmaids and I threw a bridal shower. And we decided—partially because it would be fun and partially because her fiancé dislikes all hot drinks and she treasures a good cup of African red bush tea—that we would make it a formal tea.

Forgetting why I haven’t entertained much since becoming a mother, I decided to make most of the sandwiches myself. And, although I can pack a lean, mean suitcase for an adoption trip to China, I am apparently not an efficient grocery shopper.

I bought way too much bread—and it was the pricier, thinly sliced kind, so we could eat delicate little sandwiches as we sipped our tea.

Having extra bread might not sound like a problem, but our two sons could happily exist without bread. They like many foods and eat them with fantastic appetites, but they will reach right past the bread for the soup, noodles, fruit, or almost anything else that isn’t a baked good.

So after the shower, I looked at the four extra loaves of thinly sliced bread sitting on the counter and sighed. I would have been happier with four large watermelons, four pizzas, or four gallons of chicken noodle soup. But there were the towers of thinly sliced bread.

It seemed silly, but I certainly wasn’t going to waste food. I decided to use the bread to make sunbutter-and-jelly sandwiches for the boys. I packed the sandwiches and sent them to school.

I didn’t have high hopes. Our 4-year-old had said adamantly just weeks before, “Mama, never pack sandwiches for me ever again. Not ever.”

Yet, wonder of wonders, the lunchboxes came home empty.

It turns out that thinly sliced bread is not just good for cucumber sandwiches or cream cheese and pineapple sandwiches or blue cheese and grape sandwiches or any of the other tea sandwich recipes we tried.

Thinly sliced bread works just beautifully for lunches for our preschoolers who aren’t bread enthusiasts.

As Leo and I sat together cutting the bread into circles for cucumber sandwiches the morning of the shower, he noticed that we were cutting the crusts off. I could see how his question was forming in his mind even before he asked it.

Yes, I might be willing to buy thinly sliced bread again one day.

I will happily cut the boys’ sandwiches into triangles or rectangles or squares.

But a mother has to know where to draw the line.

So, no, I will not cut off the crusts—well, not until the next time I’m making sandwiches for a formal tea.

What do you do to make your child’s lunches more fun?

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.