It was an ancient barn door, varnished and mounted on crude stumps, set in our kitchen like a fallen tree grown over with hairy moss, permanent and rotting into the floor. We ate dinner around that table every night. Yet, of all the meals I ate there, all the smoked pork shoulders and venison steaks and lemon pies, I most clearly remember tuna melt Mondays. We would set out a relish tray piled with dill pickles and pimento-stuffed olives, baby corn, sweet pickles and hot pickles, unsalted cucumber chunks and beefsteak tomatoes slices, sprinkled with iodized salt till they wriggled like squirming slugs. Here’s how we made the melts: three spoonfuls of tuna salad on Thomas’ English muffins, American cheese peeled out from between waxy paper sheets, and then, a ten minute wait for the cheese to melt—ample time for lingering over a pickle nosh.
Today, in New York, it’s not hard to find a corner diner spitting out serviceable melts. Continue reading