EC Eats: Peanut butter and salami response

Who put what with what on what?

Sam Johnson

More stories from Sam Johnson

The Tator
December 13, 2022

When Riverview Cafe doesn’t sound appealing, Midwest Meals prides itself on being a healthy alternative.

After establishing myself as Eau Claire’s premier food critic, and cementing “EC Eats” legacy as a cultural phenomenon, I stepped down. “EC Eats” is an institution, a symbol of hope far bigger than myself, so who was I to withhold it from others’ voices?

I had big hopes for the column in my absence. I envisioned a sophisticated and supportive hub for culinary rapport and enlightenment. Instead, it became peanut butter and salami.

Claire Schoenemann, a first-year journalism student and gifted Spectator writer, used the medium I — and others before me (but mostly I) — crafted into a space for sage advice on recipes and restaurants to recommend peanut butter and salami to the trusting audience.

I felt many emotions upon discovering this atrocity; betrayal, dismay and horror, to name a few. But I also felt determination.

It was my duty — nay, my obligation — nay, my destiny to explore this sandwich and expose the truth behind it.

I entered my parents’ kitchen — salami’s expensive, I’m not Jeff Bezos — and got to work.

While my expertise appears, in the public eye, to be primarily in the commercial realm, I’m a bit of a chef as well.

For my canvas, I chose a brioche sesame bun. I layered freshly cut salami on the airy, mouth-watering bun like Mother Nature placing petals on a rose. It was a match made in heaven. 

Then, I grabbed the peanut butter.

Putting peanut butter on a salami sandwich is kind of like casting Nicholas Cage in a movie people are expected to take seriously. It’s a weird choice, and there’s almost no way it will work.

While spreading smooth, creamy peanut butter onto a sandwich with so much potential, I paused for a moment.

How did I get here? What choices did I make that led to me putting peanut butter on a salami sandwich? Where did I go wrong?

I shoved these thoughts aside. As I mentioned in my narcissistic and pretentious rant earlier in this article, this was my destiny, and I was past the point of no return.

I carefully placed the now peanut butter-smeared bun on top of the savory ensemble of salami, sealing the sandwich — and my fate.

Unfortunately, Ryan Mass, my somewhat flaky sidekick, muse and emotional rock, was also home, hours away. So I sat with my parents instead, knowing I’d need support and unconditional love to protect me at this trying moment.

I lifted the abominable sandwich to my fearful mouth and took a bite.

Honestly, it was pretty good.

I probably should’ve guessed this, but it tasted like salami with a nutty aftertaste. Nothing special or out of this world, but it wasn’t bad at all.

While I may never make one again, if one were offered to me and I was hungry, I’d accept it.

Given my roots as a Midwesterner, I have a particularly fond affinity for cheese. Substituting for peanut butter felt wrong, so I may have to give it another go with a sharp cheddar or something on it to add a bit more to the flavor profile.

I came to a realization mid-sandwich. I may have judged Schoenemann too harshly.

Schoenemann is eating at the Caf every single day. That does things to a person.

Taste buds get bored, and one will try nearly anything to find an oasis of flavor amidst that desert of mediocrity.

It should be noted that the absurd nature of this article, and my arrogance in the beginning — while completely fair given my newfound, well-deserved clout as the Gordon Ramsey of the Chippewa Valley — were sarcastic and insincere.

With this being said, I think my time as the songbird of a generation’s taste buds has finally come to an epic conclusion.

Johnson can be reached at [email protected].