The Recipe Series: Turkey Sandwich

Words by Bronte Coates

Published on June 27, 2012

Rye bread
Bean sprouts

After my mother died I couldn’t stop thinking about food. I thought about hard-boiled eggs and I thought about lobsters red and gleaming. When I scanned documents at the office I contemplated peeled potatoes. When my husband and I went to art gallery openings I looked at the screen prints and saw only bowls of fruit. I began to think about food in the bathroom, on the bus, in the bedroom. At night I walked out of the shower pink and steaming into his hands. I’d seen those same hands brush an apricot glaze on a chicken before roasting. He wrapped his leg around mine and we rolled around the bed and I imagined us being tossed in a hot tray surrounded by vegetables. When he bit my nipple I thought about candied walnuts. I moaned.

I started baking. I filled up our kitchen. We couldn’t eat everything so I began to bring baked goods with me to work. Every Friday I arrived with a packed container. One week I made apple and rhubarb crumble. Another week I brought along sticky-date pudding. I caught up with old friends to dispose of biscuits, slices, tarts, and when those friends were sick, at work, or busy, I started forcing myself to eat more and more.

My hips became plump, and my breasts swelled. My husband began to press different parts of my body like he was testing the firmness of an avocado. He began to watch me carefully. When I undressed for bed his eyes followed me and I saw that now his look was urgent though he tried to disguise it with tenderness. I imagined myself a barely ripened peach.

We’d fucked after the funeral a few months back. My husband wasn’t tender; he pulled my hair. Then he pulled me up by my legs and I thought of the sandwiches I’d made that morning. I’d woken early to prepare them for the guests, layered turkey breast onto the rye bread with affection, tucking them in between mayonnaise and cherry tomatoes and mustard and bean sprouts. My husband was talking into my neck and all I could think about were these sandwiches and about eating one right then. I imagined taking one of the cherry tomatoes between my teeth and biting down.

After everyone had left I gathered up all the left-overs. Some with the filling eaten out and the bread left behind. My mother never wasted food. If I didn’t eat my breakfast she would bring the same meal out again for lunch, then dinner, and breakfast again. I carried the sandwiches outside, the half-eaten resting beside the untouched, and tipped the whole lot of them in to the bin. When I came back inside my husband said, what did you do that for? We could’ve eaten them tomorrow. I’ll make something new, I’d told him.

And then one day, when I couldn’t eat another thing, he said, enough is enough. Get rid of it all. He left for work and I looked around the kitchen. We had banana bread and walnut slice and carrot cake and ginger snaps. Somewhere in there the muffins had gone stale and I could smell mould growing. I pulled on yellow gloves and shook out a garbage bag. Inside our pantry the shelves were full of Tupperware containers, neatly stacked and labeled. I pulled the first one out and sitting behind was an egg carton. When I opened the lid I found two eggs nestled inside and when I cracked the first one into a bowl the yellow of the yolk was astonishing.