When our dad attended grade school in Minnesota, along with his brothers, his mother packed lard sandwiches for their lunch. Now if you don’t know what lard is, it is disgusting. Lard is pig fat that has been rendered. Some cooks use it to make pie crust but my sister Abby and I think it is gross and would never entertain the thought of using it in any recipe.
It is also quite bad for you in terms of meeting dietary needs.
However, our grandma was poor and thus had no option but to send such horrible sandwiches. It was all she could afford. A few years ago, I read a recipe for “lard sandwiches” that consisted of:
- Slice two slices of bread from the loaf
- Spread lard on the slices
- Lightly sugar
- Press together and enjoy!
Our grandma could not even afford sugar while our dad was growing up, so his sandwiches consisted of the bread and the lard. Years later, our mother was still making us lard sandwiches, despite being able to afford not to do so. I suspect a great deal of her grocery budget went to cigarettes and alcohol.
The brothers would slip behind the barn on their way to school and “give the sandwiches the through ticket.” They preferred to go hungry as to show up with such a pitiful lunch.
One day their mother found the stashed sandwiches and decided to give them a dime to go to the little restaurant in town and buy a bowl of soup. This did not last, as their abusive, alcoholic stepfather found out and confiscated the money.
Not ones to be deterred by such behavior, they figured out how to make a bit of extra cash by trapping animals and selling their skins.
Hunger is a great motivator and when faced with a growling stomach, you try your best to figure out a plan. They were able to survive and did not allow the meanness shown to them by their stepfather, or the dire economic circumstances of their mother, to sour them on life. In fact, they created a bond that lasted their lifetimes and could always regale you with these stories that usually ended up with a raucous choir of laughter.