The Breakfast Club is where I first heard about the fear of turning into your parents. Although I watched the movie regularly from about the age of six, I don’t think I could understand the fear until I was a teenager. It was laughable then. Of course I’ll never be like them, I thought, I’m so much smarter—I won’t fall prey to the pattern! In my twenties, I started to relate to the fear and how it could be applicable to my life, but it was still in macro terms like marriage, house, babies. I still thought it laughable that I would become them given how giant I thought their mistakes were. I could see how other people were afraid, but I was still so much smarter. Rush into a marriage? Buy too-big a house? Lose yourself to your job? The potholes were impossible to miss.
Then my thirties hit, and I’ve understood that the sly, impossible-to-escape-from repetition occurs at a micro level. What we fear, and what is inevitable, are not the grand gestures of our parents’ life, but the small ones that often go unnoticed. Their accumulation is what makes you wake one day and go, “Oh, f*&k. It’s happened.” I’m meticulous about my finances like my father; we can eat the same thing for days on end; we argue for sport. As my mother does, I ask a million questions to avoid discussing myself; we both use “Right” as the affirmative in conversation; babies seem to like us. I am Rhianna, but at certain moments, I’m Del, and at others, Betty. No amount of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy will change that. As I approach my forties, the fear has been replaced by acceptance. The but-I’m-smarter attitude is still present, it just might translate to being smart in the self-aware vein (#lieswetellourselves). I’ll hold out hope that change is possible post-fifty.
The use of salt is an easy target for You’re Just Like Your Mother. I remember countless dinners where I would chastise her for the showers of table salt she would bestow on the contents of her dinner plate. My short fuse would say that I had her blood pressure in mind, but my pride angled in when it was a dinner I had made. Things changed when as a culture we seemed to get wise to proper seasoning, which may have coincided with all the people coming home from France trips with gifts of salt. My cabinet currently stocks it in the versions of iodized table, kosher, Maldon, grey, and fleur de sel. Everything needs it. I keep a Tupperware of kosher in my office desk drawer for my lunch. I have one of those pill-box-like containers of Jacobsen’s in my purse for emergencies. The “sweet” oatmeal I prep at home probably contains as much salt as it does sugar. It’s hard for me to eat a pear without a sprinkling. I like using soy sauce and salt at the same time.
Of course Saltie is just a cute name for a cute sandwich shop, but the magic of the mineral does play a role in why the food is delicious and which options I gravitate toward. Take their focaccia, for instance. They make beautiful, vegetable-forward egg and grain bowls, but I only want their sandwiches. Most of the them, like my Captain’s Daughter, use the olive-oil laced bread as a base. The bread’s top is studded with large crystals of coarse salt, ensuring that every bite gets a crunchy pop. Then there are the pickled things that often appear within, and you can’t pickle without salt. On this visit, my sandwich contained pickled egg, but pickled veg has a starring role in one of their most famous sandwiches, the Scuttlebutt. The salinity is upped in that number with feta. That of my Captain’s Daughter was upped with the capers in the salsa verde. And well, the sardines speak to the sea, which is salty.
While most of the menu revolves around items that have been around since the shop’s beginning, seasonal produce shapes all of the daily specials, including an egg bowl, a sandwich or two, and a salad. The side to my sandwich was the day’s salad, a bowl filled with late summer tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and summer squash. Because of an allergy, my dressing did not contain the nut, herb, and spice mix, but I was happy with the tahini base, nonetheless.
Betty is not an adventurous eater (Del either), and I can’t picture her eating this meal. I’m telling myself that the development in recent years of my palate, however salty, is one small therapy-free victory for me. Feel free to add that hashtag if you want.