peanut butter, honey and banana sandwiches

This recipe is basically all in the title. But let me tell you about them. After I left school, I got a job as a ‘chugger’. You know, a ‘charity mugger’. I loved it. I could use my cheeky 18 year old smile and my ever enthusiastic tigger-bounce to get people to give £5 – £10 a month to Amnesty, or to Concern Worldwide. It gave me an excuse to talk about what was happening in countries all over the world.

One of my favorite stories was about Concern’s work in Eritrea. Eritrea is a high mountainous country which had a long war for independence from Ethiopia. Many of the peoples there primarily survive on honey. They have kept the same hives often for hundreds of years, and their whole lives are based around maintaining them. When they move, they place the queen bee in a special leather pouch to take her with them. Or so the story goes.

During the war, Ethiopian troops used to burn down these hives, removing from these people their main source of food and income. Concern worked closely with these communities, and so knew that what they wanted wasn’t conventional disaster aid. They wanted help getting new queen bees, so they could re-found their hives.

In the job, we traveled round the country, staying in a different place every week, and often with a different team leader. One week, I had a wonderful huge Welsh hippy as my boss. Unlike most other teams – dominated by late night booze and hung over mornings, his was cared for  he was avuncular. He’d cook us a proper dinner at night, make sure we got proper sleep, and, in the morning, he’d wake us up at 7:30 with coffee, and with peanut butter, honey and banana sandwiches. These were the most astonishing start to the day I had ever come across. It was mid winter, and we were spending our days in the street and the wind and the hale. The energy kept us powering on. I got twice as many people as normal to sign up that week.

Later that year, I discovered why. I took the money I had saved as a chugger, I packed a light backpack, and I flew off to the United States, where I walked the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine, up the ridge line of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. The hiking there is sometimes quite tough, and I had to get to Mount Katahdinn in Main in time for my flight home for my freshers’ week. I could only buy food every 5 days or so, and would have to carry everything I bought on my back up and down mountains. I was also pretty poor. And so I used to wander down mini-marts in the Southern States carefully calculating in my head which things gave the most calories/dollar/kg. The answer (among those things which won’t go off), was usually the same: peanut butter. And with its added boost of protein, it became a staple of my diet for those four and a half months.

And so, I’ve recently taken up eating peanut butter, honey, and banana sandwiches once more. And I recommend that you do too.

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