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So Near and Yet So Far Away

A shop instructor I had at college came to mind recently. “A tool is an extension of your hand” he said “and remember, it’s is a poor craftsman who blames his tools.”

I had agreed to bring tea sandwiches to a brunch last weekend. I’d postponed starting work until the evening before the event but the heat of the day persisted and kitchen lights bore down like sun lamps. My plan for dainty finger sandwiches included egg, tuna, shrimp with a nod to mid-century by including brown bread filled with cream cheese. Finding the old-fashioned bread took some detective work as it comes baked and sealed inside of a can.

I assembled my ingredients; boiled eggs, cans of good tuna, a loaf of thinly-sliced sandwich bread, cutting boards, a serrated knife, and plump shrimps chilled and chopped. I had images of dainty sandwiches garnished with pickles and olives, swagged with fresh parsley. What could possibly go wrong?

My hubby and I had tossed out our dull, hand-crank can opener and replaced it a new one. When it was time to the open cans, the new opener refused to work! It wouldn’t catch onto the edge of the cans and the crank would not turn. My husband released the tuna by punching overlapping holes so I could dig it out but, to be of any use the brown bread had to slide unmarred out of the can.

Overheated, I worked fast and when hubby presented me a perfect, raisin-studded column of bread I slapped the sandwiches together, wrapped them in stacks and put them to chill overnight figuring I’d trim crusts and cut fancy shapes in the morning.

That useless, annoying can opener proved to be nothing like an extension of my hand. Who thought a new gadget would need to be tested before using? I might not make tea sandwiches again soon but no experience is wasted if it makes a good story and a good story relies upon clearly remembered details. Putting words to paper is a pleasure and many of us are asked to share recipes and kitchen hints. Even if you consider yourself a mediocre cook, the kids want to keep connected to earlier times through food. I must remember to find out and write down how my husband saved the day by getting that can of bread open. For now, it’s a mystery.

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