In my husband’s family it is a commonly acknowledged fact that all food, from cherries to Cheetos, tastes better on the beach—specifically on the beach in Cape Cod, which is where we spend close to two glorious weeks each summer.
When we’re in Cape Cod, time doesn’t exist the way it does elsewhere. Every bit of our routine goes out the window and our schedule is determined more by the tides than anything else.
More often than not, my children go from pajamas to bathing suits and back again. Just as Shabbat is a gift in that it offers a release from the bonds of secular time, Cape Cod vacation time, for me at least, is a kind of freedom, too. Hours seem to pass in mere minutes; days stretch in the unlikely marriage of laziness and adventure.
Vacation time. And vacation eating. We eat second breakfasts of pastries acquired from a French bakery so good it’s worth the 30-minute line at 7 am. We make our way to get blueberry scones at cafés on the harbor so early we need hooded sweatshirts to warm us as we watch the fishing boats leave. We buy fish so fresh it’s tempting to eat it right away when we remove it from its paper packaging at home. We go to 10 am movies on rainy days and order buckets of popcorn we mix with M&Ms and Swedish Fish. We eat ice cream. Oh, do we eat ice cream! We have after-lunch ice cream at the beach and after-dinner ice cream at home. We devour the trays of cheese and crackers and the bowls of chips and salsa my mother-in-law sets before us every evening to go with our cocktails or our wine or our beer.
We bake, too. Outrageous things. Ice cream cakes with six flavors, cakes filled with donuts, cakes that look like American flags when they are cut, all covered in the kind of delicious, sickly sweet frosting that comes in a tub. One year, we even attempted to make gluten-free cronuts. They were…well, they were fried, at least.
But nothing—not pastries or cake or ice cream—compares to the simple, pure deliciousness of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I eat for lunch on the beach each day in Cape Cod.
If you plan on adopting this, it is important to note that you must not try to make this sandwich in any way healthy. Use cinnamon-raisin bread and do not read the ingredients. Both slices of bread must be smothered in peanut butter. No-sugar-added all-natural peanut butter won’t work here. It has to be smooth, creamy, sweet. And the fruit-to-sugar ratio of the jelly really shouldn’t be a concern; if you can squeeze the jelly out of a bottle, even better. Do just that on the peanut butter, which, if spread properly, will protect the bread from getting jelly-soggy while it sits in the cooler on the beach, waiting to be eaten. Feel free to place a few potato chips in the middle for crunch if that’s your thing. Quarter the sandwich. Trust me, it’s better this way.
Most of the sandwich ingredients are truly easy to come by. But it’s that ocean air that really does the trick.