Sauerkraut Dreams

Deborah Hendrick on Thursday, April 20th, 2006

“You ever eaten a hot sauerkraut sandwich?” asked Max Dolje.

“Um, I don’t much care for sauerkraut.”

“This is Mama’s sauerkraut,” he said. “Sit there.” Max pointed to a chair at the bar dividing the kitchen from the den.

Tony was there to install a new dishwasher. He should have been back in town by now, but the job before this one took longer than expected. Lunch would be a long way off if he didn’t eat now.

Max cut two thick slices of home-made bread, and slathered each with a good coat of pale butter, then cut two slices of crumbling longhorn and laid them on one side. He ladled out a huge serving of boiling sauerkraut and pressed it between two spoons until most of the juice ran out. He delicately arranged the hot sauerkraut over the cheese with the artistry of a fine chef, ground coarse pepper all over it, then topped it with the other slice of bread. He cut it, placed the halves just so to one side of small platter, and laid three finger-size deep green pickles along side.

“Bless us, O Lord,” he prayed. “Them’s Mama’s sweet pickles. Blue Ribbon winners.”

Max fixed Tony a quart-sized glass of sweet tea, and then opened up a bag of potato chips and shook half of them on to Tony’s plate. While Tony carefully bit into the first half of his sandwich, Max quickly fixed one for himself, and sat down beside Tony at the bar.

The men ate without speaking, and when Tony finished his sandwich he spoke, “God bless Mama.”

“Amen,” Max replied. “You want another sandwich?”

“If I eat another one of those, I won”t be able to get down in the floor and install that new dishwasher for your Mama,” answered Tony. “So tell me Max—you got a sister?”

“You wish. No, just me and Mama. Daddy passed when I was in my last year of college. When I finished, I came back to run the farm.”

“So you’re in no hurry to find a wife?” Tony asked.

“Dang if I’m not, but farming doesn’t leave much time for dating—though I do have a date with one of the Friemel sisters this weekend,” said Max smiling at the thought.

“Miss Friemel has a sister?”

“Miss Friemel has a twin, and to tell you the truth, I’m not exactly sure which one I made a date with, Karla or Anna.” Max paused, explaining. “They look like Miss November and Miss November.”

“You’ll just have to confess,” Tony said thoughtfully. “Women love it when you confess. But you’ll need a wingman. Can they cook like Mama?”

“I dunno. It’ll take us awhile to find out. We’ll have to go to church too.”

“Be worth it then,” said Tony with a wink, “if they can cook like Mama.”

Topics: Short stories


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