The Food Column: Some of these sammies sound inedible

Lunchtime! Pull up to the table and tuck into a sandwich of crunchy peanut butter, Miracle Whip, lettuce and tomato on white bread.

Yuck? My dad would beg to differ. Two weeks ago in our all-things-tomato section, I reminisced about Dad's unusual summertime sandwich favorite, and I asked readers to chime in with their own unusual sandwich combos.

Perfect timing, what with back-to-school lunch packing, right?

Maybe not. Your kids might gag if they pull one of these out of the baggie.

Oh well, we'll share our readers' suggestions anyhow.

Tom Bates reminisced that his favorite sandwich when he was a kid was ketchup and mayo on white bread, but as he got a little older, a friend introduced him to PB & relish. And as an adult living in Arkansas, he ate a chicken sandwich at a co-worker's house, and the chicken still had the bones in it -- on purpose. No wonder Mr. Bates moved back here; he now lives in McCandless.

The most popular combo our readers suggested, by far, was peanut butter and pickles, which makes me wonder whether we happen to have an inordinate number of pregnant readers. Leslie Granny Jonis called this combo "the bomb diggity." Jack Ferguson, who grew up in West Newton, called it "Grandma's special" (what was his grandma smoking?). Don Best said it makes a "great contrast of textures and balance of flavors," and Bob Williams said that "if you try it, you will eat another... and another..." Unlike others, Joanne Tyler Tucker prefers sweet pickles over dill for this combo.

And Brian Colosimo observed that at the Hula Bar in Verona, people actually pay money to eat this combo: "The Presley" features peanut butter, dill pickles and American cheese on a toasted bun.

A couple readers also suggested peanut butter and banana, though that one is pretty run-of-the-mill. I actually eat it regularly, especially if I've got some chopped dates to toss on there. And several readers also mentioned a combo I recall from the elementary school lunchroom: peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. We could never talk my mom into making that one (too much like dessert for lunch, though I could never figure out how it was substantially worse nutritionally than PB&J), but several friends' moms made it.

Other combos that involved peanut butter included the following (note that many readers posted suggestions on Facebook and didn't include where they live):

• Peanut butter and sugar, or PB, banana and mayo (Dale Hankins, who grew up in Beechview).

• Peanut butter and potato chips (Kimberly McKinnis).

• Peanut butter between two pieces of toast dipped in maple syrup (Rich Troy).

• PB, tomato and a thin slice of sweet onion (Daniel Cook).

• Peanut butter, Miracle Whip, cheddar and salami or bologna (Jestine Pierce).

• Peanut butter, jelly and fried salami (Caesar Dechicchis).

• BLT with peanut butter (Amy Bennett Uhlemann, who grew up in Bethel Park).

Among the non-peanut-butter combos, variations on the Potato Chip Sandwich reigned supreme. Some people eat just the potato chips on bread; others add ham, bologna, salami, yellow mustard, mayo and/or cheese.

And here are some more:

• American cheese and onion on white bread with mustard, or American, bologna, onion, long dill pickle slices and brown mustard on white bread (Paul Kirker, who grew up in Coraopolis but now lives in Illinois).

• Hot ham, turkey and pepperoni topped with mashed potatoes; egg salad and turkey breast; ham and ricotta cheese (Rich Troy).

• Applesauce sandwiches (Danielle Camp, who grew up in Knoxville).

• Turkey and cranberries, especially from Thanksgiving leftovers (Anne Paolicelli).

• Cream cheese and jelly (Joanne Tyler Tucker).

• Butter and ketchup (Mary Ann Ference Braun).

• Brick cheese melted on bread or toast and sprinkled with sugar (Beth Delach).

• Potato salad, American cheese and grape jelly on white toast (Terri Steele-Austin -- actually, it's her mom who ate this strangeness).

• Roll up a whole dill pickle in white bread with Miracle Whip (Janet Sotlar).

• Peanut butter and green olives on white toast (Elizabeth Jeffries, Penn Hills).

• Cucumber, tomato, mustard, mayo, salt and pepper (Arthur Loeffler, who added, "Yummy. Going to make one right now."

But the weirdest -- and most potentially toxic -- combo was submitted by Nikki Redlinger McKenna, whose father used to eat Cannibal Sandwiches: Raw ground meat, onions and ketchup.

"So gross!" she exclaimed.

Um, yeah. I might try a couple of these combos -- for instance, the PB and maple syrup pairing sounds mighty good -- but I will steer far away from the Cannibal Sandwich. Blech.

Mt. Lebanon's Mary Ann Ragan offered some sandwiches that kids actually will eat. Her two kids did and three granddaughters do. "Large or mini plain bagel with sandwich pepperoni and cream cheese," toasted in the oven before you spread on the cream cheese. "Another good sandwich is on whole-grain bread with Nutella and peanut butter."

More reader participation

Readers, here's another chance to chime in: What is your favorite time-saving tip in the kitchen? Share it with me by e-mailing Include your first and last name and where you live, and your comments could show up in print.


Farm Dinner: Five-course rustic Italian dinner with local wines and bread baked fresh in an on-site wood-fired oven; menu features locally sourced ingredients and seasonal produce. 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, in Grandview Park, Mt. Washington. $90 per person. Reservations required: 412-589-9586 or e-mail

Summer Dining Under a Tent: Grilled spice-rubbed shrimp, braised beef short rib empanada, smoked mussels, Spanish rice, tres leches cake, run-soaked pineapple brulee and other delicacies served under a tent (BYOB). 6:30 p.m. next Thursday, Aug. 29, at Whole Foods, East Liberty. $65 per person benefits Enright Community Garden and other local Whole Foods partnerships. Reservations required: 412-441-7960 ext. 215.

National Road Frontier Dinner: Five-course dinner with wine and beer pairings, bonfire under the stars, silent and Chinese auction and live hammered dulcimer music. 6 p.m. Aug. 30 at Christian W. Klay Winery, Chalk Hill. $65 per person. Reservations required: 724-437-9877.

Outdoor food

Summer Salads Paddle: Paddle the shoreline of Lake Arthur in a solo kayak, then enjoy a picnic of local greens topped with nuts, berries, veggies and dressings. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Moraine State Park, Butler County. $36 (ages 12 and up only). 412-255-0564.

Savor Pittsburgh: Cuisine from more than 25 restaurants, cocktails, raffles, dancing and live music. 6:30 p.m. next Thursday, Aug. 29, at SouthSide Works (5:30 p.m. for VIP access). $65 per person for general admission or $120 for VIP; proceeds benefit Magee-Womens Research Institute & Foundation's fight against premature births.

Rebecca Sodergren: or on Twitter @pgfoodevents.


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