Slices of heaven

The celestial sandwich. PHOTO: CHARLIE BUCHAN
The celestial sandwich. PHOTO: CHARLIE BUCHAN
On New Year’s Eve I weighed myself. This was a mistake, writes Kate Oktay.

Kate Oktay
Kate Oktay
I never weigh myself. I put on weight until my jeans get uncomfortably tight and then I start running until I can do up the top button again. Something possessed me to drag out the scales from underneath the cupboard and get on them. I looked in horror. I weighed more than my father. More than two very good lambs due for the works. I had cracked a new number, reached new heights, or widths, and was quietly horrified at myself.

In retrospect this should not have been a surprise. I spent December in an eat, eat, eat, eat, drink, eat, drink, eat cycle that favoured deep-fried, cheesy, and chocolate interspersed with alcohol of any kind. A particular low point was eating nachos in bed at around 11.30 at night as my husband tried to sleep beside me.

"Guess how much I weigh?" I said to him. He looked at me with a critical horse-buyer-at-the-market eye. "You have put on weight," he conceded. "Umm ..." and guessed a number that would have been my average weight plus a long lunch.

I briefly considered how fortunate it was that I had managed to marry someone with such a poor ability to calculate mass.

"Uh-uh", I said.

He crept up, number by number as I shook my head, and then suddenly dipped down to something I hadn’t been in years.

Lucky. Lucky, lucky, lucky, I thought, and pondered whether it was a problem with his eyes or his brain.

"Higher than all of those numbers," I said sadly.

He finally guessed correctly in a tone that seemed almost impressed that I had managed to eat that many chippies.

"Vaaaay," he said, in a characteristic switch to Turkish that happens whenever strong emotions overtake him.

On New Year’s Day, I woke up after a dream about my husband taking a second wife. I knew this would make him happy, so I told him about it as soon as I crawled out of bed.

A decade of marriage proved me right and he hooted with delight, "Yah, second wife time! Finally! Was she young? Was she covered?" he grinned hopefully.

"You are the worst," I told him cheerfully and went off to make myself breakfast.

When I came back he was chatting to his brother on the phone.

"Hey!" I shouted. "Happy new year!"

"Don’t worry," my brother-in-law said to me, gleefully.

"Huh?" I replied.

"Don’t worry about the second wife. There is a maximum weight, so once you are over that it splits, and you are the second wife," he said while he and my husband dissolved into hysterics.

"I hate you both," I said and stalked off to eat my toast, buttered with slightly less abandon than usual, shutting the door on the raucous laughter.

Putting on well over 10kg in a couple of months has been remarkably easy. Apart from anything else, what is mostly to blame is the fact my work is very close to the best sandwiches I have eaten in my entire life.

The bread has a crust of golden crispness and a pillowy, soft inner. Pork belly, cooked to perfection, is a generous slice of mouth-wateringly tender heaven juxtaposed by a bright, zesty plum sauce with crushed hazelnuts and fresh green rocket.

I eat my packed lunch when I can wait no longer (10am), and then for the rest of the day I suffer intrusive thoughts about The Lead Balloon’s delicious sandwiches.

In the middle of a meeting I am dreaming of cloud-like, chewy bread. I write an email and drift off to thinking about their recipe for the sauce. How do they get a many-layered richness to it while keeping the colour so vivid? Is there some kind of citrus involved?

Eventually, by about 1pm, sandwich thoughts have crowded out work thoughts entirely and I figure that I should just go and buy one. After all, we are, at my place of work, partially ratepayer funded. I have a responsibility to the people.

Once I am there they look so delicious, and I am so hungry that I buy two. After all, there was the walk there, a 100m lumber across the Museum Reserve, that has to be worth some calories, I reason.

Those pork sandwiches are a good part of the reason why I am now both wife one and two.

I don’t care that I am buying that Lead Balloon lady a holiday house through my relentless purchasing of her products and that I am going to have to start wearing elasticised pants to work.

She is a genius, and I am blessed to be able to eat her celestial sandwiches.


 

Add a Comment

Local journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Otago Daily Times reporters and photographers continue to bring you the stories that matter. For more than 158 years our journalists have provided readers with local news you can trust. This is more important now than ever.

As advertising drops off during the pandemic, support from our readers is crucial. You can help us continue to bring you news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter