There’s only ever been one constant in my vaguely turbulent life, and that’s peanut butter. It’s been there, through thick and thin, and crunchy. Sometimes centre stage, sometimes in the background and sometimes stuck on the roof of my mouth. Often on toast, regularly in a tofu dinner, at times soaring through the air on a spoon on the way to my mouth to be eaten naked and gluttonously.
One of the first things I bought the day after I moved out and moved country when I was 24 was a bucket of peanut butter. Because that seemed the most fitting way to celebrate my new found freedom. Others used a keg, I used a keg of blended peanuts. And it tasted good.
It’s salty but also sweet, it makes a sauce but also a smoothie, it works on a sandwich with jam but also with cashew mayo. It’s as resilient as it is versatile, that little brown wonder.
If I am ever writing a script which features a scene with a woman crying on a floor of her house, for some reason that has come up a lot, my first instinct is always to have her eating peanut butter from a jar with a spoon. There’s nothing better to glue together the pieces of a broken heart, or mind, than with that sticky, salty liquid that wraps itself around your mouth like the hug you are crying for.
My Swedish Granny, Mormor, would disappear into her sister’s summer house, which stood beside ours, during summers I would stay in Stockholm. Mormor would then creep out and walk gently back to our little house, holding something up to her mouth. I would run down to meet her and ask:
“What are you eating?”
Her blue eyes would twinkle as she would tell me, like a secret:
“I took a spoon of peanut butter.”
She would savour that spoonful, holding it in her lips like a lollipop. Having been a professional ballerina in her youth she would never allow herself more than that stealthy spoonful. But the joy it gave her was all that she needed.
That must be one of the reasons I hold peanut butter in such high regard, because I didn’t let myself eat it for so long. When you go on a diet peanut butter is the first thing to go, along with happiness and self worth. But that’s a whole other story.
This story is about peanut butter, and it ends happily. Unlike an empty jar of the good stuff, which is always met with quiet sorrow, and the noise of a blunt knife gently scraping the glass at the bottom.