Sunday, December 11, 2016

Chicken Salad for my Heart and Soul

In January of 1984, I was due to deliver our first child at the local hospital.  For some reason it seemed that everyone I talked to mentioned that I would have to eat their chicken salad while I was there, because it was apparently amazing.  So, for weeks, as I packed my bag and anticipated the arrival of our baby, I practically was salivating as I waited to have this renowned sandwich.  In labor by 5:30 AM on the morning of the 23rd, excited over the (I thought) impending arrival of our little one, we left for the hospital.  Surviving over the next 18 hours with ice chips, even during the lunch hour when my husband went to the cafeteria and got, what else?---a chicken salad sandwich, everyone----everyone----promised me that no matter what time that baby finally arrived, they would get me the long-awaited sandwich.

Baby wasn't swayed at all by that promise, and after a long day trying every labor and delivery option available, he arrived at 11:02 PM via Caesarean section, and general anesthesia.  If you've ever had surgery, you know that means your first meal(s) are clear liquid.  Chicken broth. Red jello. Hot tea. Apple juice. Lemon Italian ice.  Next meal: Beef broth. Green jello.  Hot tea. Cranberry juice. Cherry Italian ice.  Five days in the hospital, and I never got my chicken salad sandwich.

Fast forward to March, 1990, and we're waiting for baby #2.  Scheduled Caesarean this time, so no empty promises of my sandwich being ordered right after delivery.  But this time I was only in the hospital three days, and it just wasn't long enough for the clear liquids to end and the hospital menu to offer chicken salad.

Over the next years, Brian has become quite the chicken salad chef at our house.  I boil the chicken, and he picks it.  Technically, he hand shreds it, which I think is the secret.  I add salt, pepper, chopped onion and celery, sometimes a dash of Old Bay, and just enough mayonnaise to hold it all together.  It's not unusual for me to boil 6 chicken breasts, so we enjoy Pa's World Famous Chicken Salad for several days, either on fresh white bread or seeded rye.

Baby #1 grew up, met and married a wonderful girl.  On our very first visit to the home of our co-in-laws ( that's really the official relationship, although we prefer 'close friends'), we discovered that co-mother-in-law makes an AMAZING chicken salad.  In the past 8 years, whenever we've gathered for showers, birthdays, house moves, or any other large or small event, I knew Cathy's World Famous Chicken Salad would make the day extra special-----and on those moving days  it was my incentive to keep working!  Hers is always served on tender croissants-----I can taste it now!

It's December, 2016, and 10 days ago I was admitted to a different local hospital for knee replacement surgery.  Things have change a lot in 30+ years, and I was barely out of surgery when I was brought a tray of REAL food (truth be told, I was looking forward to at least one of those clear liquid meals----at least for the Italian ice!). Much to my joy, as I perused the menu for the next day, what was available but a chicken salad sandwich!  Decision made!  It was delicious, and when they asked for my lunch order the following day, it was easy-----repeat!  Whole grain bread, perfect lunch.

Yesterday, to my surprise, co-mother-in-law came by with her sister (co-aunt-in-law?), bringing two kinds of soup, rolls, cookies, croissants and chicken salad!!!  I can't wait until lunch today----soup and sandwich and cookies!!!!  Yum.  I think chicken salad may be one of my love languages.

It's only 6:00 AM----wonder if that could be my breakfast??

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