As I sat next to my boss during Team Lunch several weeks ago, I found myself staring as he meticulously shelled and consumed several soft boiled eggs. And the reason it was so ensnaring to me was because it reminded me of my childhood.
No, I didn’t eat soft boiled eggs as a kid; in fact, I’ve never had a soft boiled egg. What my boss’s lunch reminded me of was actually this:
First published in 1964, Bread and Jam for Frances is part of a series revolving around Frances, a young badger girl. In this particular installment, Frances decides that having bread and jam for every meal would be the best and most decadent thing in the world. But when her parents decide to give their daughter her wish, Frances discovers the truism that variety is the spice of life.
While all of the books about Frances are good, Bread and Jam was always the best. I read it over and over as a kid, and I still remember my favorite page.
“When the bell rang for lunch Frances sat down next to her friend Albert.
‘What do you have today?’ said Frances.
‘I have a cream cheese-cucumber-and-tomato sandwich on rye bread,’ said Albert. ‘And a pickle to go with it. And a soft-boiled egg and a little cardboard shaker of salt to go with that. And a thermos bottle of milk. And a bunch of grapes and a tangerine. And a cup custard with a spoon to eat it with. What do you have?’ “
As a kid, that meal always sounded to exotic and awesome to me. It still sounds good, although now I’m struck by the sheer amount of food that little Albert was supposedly going to consume. I get tired of eating a sandwich and chips every day really fast, and I think it’s this book that has caused me to despise sameness. I’m one of those weirdos who lives to eat, instead of eating to live. I even take pictures of my food when I go somewhere special, or am traveling. I blame Bread and Jam for Frances.
While I did spend most of my time as a kid reading, I also watched a fair amount of movies. Disney featured heavily throughout most of elementary and middle school, but another one I watched until I had it practically memorized was a Chuck Jones (of Looney Toons fame) adaptation of an old story by Rudyard Kipling: “The White Seal.”
This movie brings back many memories and feelings of childhood, and I always love finding out that other people grew up watching it too. It’s a simple plot, with no real complications, but it’s still one of my favorite films of all time. Plus, he’s a cute baby seal! Who doesn’t love a baby seal? (Parts two and three are available on Youtube, if you want to click on through.)
Ten or so years down the road, some books and movies have become a part of my identity. These things are inextricably intertwined with my childhood, and I can’t read or see them without becoming eight again, wondering if Frances will eat something other than bread and jam, and being afraid that Kotick will be eaten by a shark.
I think of these things, and I am a child again.
What books did you read as a child? Have any books or movies become a part of your identity? Would you eat bread and jam for every meal?