I never thought of myself as an artist until I was in college, and then only at the suggestion of a friend of mine one day as we were eating lunch in the dining hall. As was my tendency then and to some degree even now, I was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The observant coed exclaimed to me in the middle of my preparation,”Scott, you are an artist, no one takes such care in making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!”
Please note that growing up eating this wonderful bit of Americana, I had developed my own style of making it, in addition to the fact that I have seen many incorrect ways that send shudders down my spine.
First of all, both pieces of the bread need to be laid flat on whatever surface is being used, whether a counter top or a plate. Secondly, the order of application is most important with peanut butter being spread on the left piece of bread with a full spread application. Depositing a glob of peanut butter in the middle of the bread and being too lazy to spread it out is just gross. A little work never hurt anyone, so spread it to the far reaches of the the crust (please leave the crust on), leaving no part of the upper side of the bread exposed. The same applies to the jelly, applied to the right piece of bread. There is no kind of jelly that one must use, but for this article, I would say use Concord grape. Again, a little work spreading works wonders for this sandwich, so do not fall into the trap that many do of mixing both on the same piece of bread (even worse are those premixed jars). The jellied bread always goes on top of the other bread and is plated so that when one picks up the sandwich and bites into it, the jelly is on top.
This takes practice so do not be disappointed if at first it does not seem to work out well. One of the great things about the practice of making these sandwiches is eating your mistakes.
Of course, as a child, I was given milk with my sandwich, but I am no longer a child so I have found something that goes with it equally as well and even though many think I am merely kidding, I am actually quite serious. My drink of choice with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is none other than a good, rich glass of Malbec. I am sure the French had no idea of this kind of pairing when developing this wine. Now that it is made mostly in Argentina, a new world country, all holds are barred.
This is where the Concord grape comes into play. The jammyness of the jelly is offset by the rich fruit forwardness of the wine, with both flavors united by the taste of the peanut butter. While the sweetness of the jelly is pleasant to the end of one’s tongue, the richness of a quality Malbec carries the entire experience into a transition to a moderate finish that is somewhat euphoric.
One must also understand the health aspects of this pairing. The protein in peanut butter is nothing but good. Used in moderate amounts, either crunchy or smooth are both excellent. While many may say that jelly is not the most healthy thing to eat, it is offset by the Malbec, a red wine, that is proven to be, in moderation, extremely healthy.
For the skeptics, I would encourage you to take this pairing and try it for yourself. I understand that some do not like peanut butter and jelly, and some do not like Malbec, but I promise you if you do like both, this is a delightful pairing guaranteed to bring even the haughtiest foodie culinary delight.