In honor of the 205th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, a reposting of an old Daily Creative Writer exploration of the connection between canned fish and Mr. Darcy.
During the first fits and starts of what was to become The Daily Creative Writer, my initial posts ran the gamut from personal essays to bits and pieces of fiction to the random poem. Hidden amongst those early entries is a jewel that still brings a smile to my face. What if, I pondered, Pride and Prejudice was not about star-crossed lovers and British manners.
What if it was about sandwiches?
Originally posted in 2012, here, once again, is a meditation on pride, prejudice, and tuna…
(Mrs. Bennet contemplates fixing up tuna, instead of daughters)It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a single can of tuna possessed of white albacore packed in water is in need of a good sandwich. Whatever is known about the true intentions of that can as it sits on the market shelf, it’s a truth so fixed in the minds of sandwich aficionados that the mere presence of this tuna can in the cupboard is perceived as the rightful property of the sandwich maker. (And woe to the casserole cooker or salad shooter who appropriates the meaty whitefish for their own designs!).
“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have heard that Whole Foods finally has organic, free-range, dolphin-safe tuna?”
Mr. Bennet replies that he had not.
“But they do,” she replied, “for my yoga instructor Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.”
Mr. Bennet made no answer.
“Do you not want to know who makes it?” cried his wife impatiently.
“You, want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”
This was invitation enough.
“Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Whole Foods is itself manufacturing the tuna. It comes directly from the farthest reaches of the unpolluted waters of the Pacific. Whole Foods has taste tested it and found it to be truly delightful. It’s already on the shelves of our local store, and it is set to go nationwide very soon, maybe even by the end of next week!”
“What is the name of this wondrous product?
“Is it packed in oil or water.”
“Oh! Water, my dear, to be sure! A can of wild, organic tuna at a reasonable price; a dollar or two a can. We can mix it with mayo and relish and a dab of the honey mustard. What a fine thing for our lunches!”
“How so? How can it affect our lunches?”
“My dear Mr. Bennet,” replied his wife, “how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am making sandwiches with this tuna.”
“Is that the purpose and design for this new product?”
“Purpose! Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! Tuna cans don’t think the way we do. But it is very likely that it may be made into a sandwich, and therefore, you must buy it at once.”
“I see no occasion for that. You and the girls may go to the store, or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be still better, for as you are as savvy a shopper as any of them. The Bingley tuna may only be the beginning of an organic, free-range, locally grown shopping spree.”
“My dear, you flatter me. I certainly have had my share of shopping triumphs, but I do not pretend to be anything extraordinary now. When a woman has every store card and membership number available, she ought to give over thinking of her own coupon clipping youth and let her daughters find their own deals.”
“In such cases, a woman has not often much budget savvy to think of.”
“But, my dear, you must indeed taste the Bingley tuna once we have it.”
“It is more than I engage for, I assure you.”
“But consider your stomach. Only think what a treat it would be for your taste buds and your cholesterol. Our Sir William and Lady Lucas are determined to drive their Prius over there later today, merely on that account, for in general, you know, they prefer the local food coop to national brands and big box stores. Indeed you must taste it, for it will be impossible for us to enjoy tuna sandwiches at lunch if you do not.”
“You are over-scrupulous, surely. I dare say the Bingley tuna will taste very good to you, and I’ll assure you and the girls of my hearty consent to your tuna sandwich machinations. Though I must make sure to hear Lizzy’s review of the new product.”
“I desire you will do no such thing. Lizzy’s palate is not any more sophisticated than the others. I am sure she is not nearly as committed to celery as Jane, nor half so likely to add chopped apples or almonds as Lydia. But you are always giving her the preference.”
“They have none of them much to recommend them,” replied he; “they are all pretentious and self-righteous and too focused on being ‘green’ and sustainable; but Lizzy has something more of situational awareness than her sisters, and as such has a better appreciation for wine, cheese and the good things in life.”
“Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion for my poor digestion.”
“You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your digestion. It’s my old friends. I have heard you mention it with consideration these last twenty years at least.”