“We really need your help, Mr. Tuff,” said Mrs. Baker, a small, gray-haired lady.
It’s good to be wanted.
“But I’m afraid we can’t afford to pay you,” confessed her husband, also gray-haired. I didn’t want to be mercenary with a couple of fellow-seniors, so I asked: “What is your problem?”
“We’re both retired and living on pensions,” said Mrs. Baker, “but when we stopped working, we invested our savings in a business. We opened the Earl of Sandwich shop.”
“We have the necessary license,” added Mr. Baker, “but to save money, we operate out of our house, on our closed-in, heated front porch. We make and sell roast beef and chicken sandwiches and people say they’re very good.”
“Try one,” and Mrs. Baker handed me a large, neatly wrapped sandwich. “The secret is the sauce which I make by my grandmother’s recipe.”
Why, I wondered, is a secret recipe always grandmother’s, never grandfather’s or mother’s or father’s? I took a bite. People who said the Bakers’ food was good were wrong. It wasn’t good ꟷ it was delicious, taste bud-titillatingly delicious. I took another, bigger bite. “Why do you need my help?”
“A few days ago, a couple of detectives told us that we had to stop selling food unless the number of calories and the quantities of all the ingredients are listed on the wrappers. It’s a new bylaw,” said Mr. Baker. “We have no idea about these details or how to get them.”
“All we know is that people love our sandwiches and no one has ever got sick or died from eating them,” added Mrs. Baker.
Unless from obesity, I thought, caused by eating too many of them, and that would take time, a lot of enjoyable time. I put the last piece of the sandwich into my mouth.
The Bakers gave me their address and telephone number and I promised to call them as soon as I had any ideas. Besides, I wanted two more sandwiches, one for Hank.
How does one get food analyzed to find out the calories and the contents, I wondered. It probably requires a chemist and a dietician and is very expensive. Where is Joanne when I need her?”
Jo taught Home Ec at Blandsville High for a couple of years and, when we discovered that we had a common birthday, we sometimes had dinner together. She knew all of the best restaurants in the area.
Once the school had a bake sale to raise money for charity, the cakes to be made by male teachers, of whom I was one. That was when I learned that the most important article in baking is a telephone. I called Jo, she told me the ingredients to measure and mix. I called back for the next step. The next day my chocolate cherry walnut rum cake sold for a good price, I presume because everyone loves chocolate.