Elvis Presley’s Fried Peanut But­ter and Banana Sandwiches

Talk about food that will stick to your ribs and pow­er you through twen­ty-five hours of con­tem­pla­tion. Here’s the sand­wich for you. Roselle Char­tock writes about Rab­bi Alfred Fruchter and his wife, Jean­nette, who were the Pres­leys’ upstairs neigh­bors in a large Vic­to­ri­an house in Mem­phis. Jean­nette . . . explained how, once a month, they would have the Pres­leys over for Fri­day Sab­bath din­ner. Elvis loved our food,’ she said, espe­cial­ly the chal­lah. He would have his peanut but­ter and banana sand­wich, his favorite food, on chal­lah.’ ” He was also the Fruchters’ Shab­bos goy — a non-Jew hired by Jews to per­form cer­tain chores for them that they are pro­hib­it­ed from doing on the Sabbath.

Serves 1

2 slices Chal­lah (page 54)

1 medi­um ripe banana

2 table­spoons chunky peanut butter

2 table­spoons unsalt­ed butter

  1. Light­ly toast the chal­lah (to keep it from rip­ping when the peanut but­ter is spread on it).
  2. Mash the banana on one slice of chal­lah, then spread the peanut but­ter on the oth­er slice. Close the spread sides together.
  3. Melt the but­ter in a small skil­let over medi­um heat, then fry the sand­wich on each side until both sides are gold­en brown.
  4. It’s most eas­i­ly con­sumed if cut on the diag­o­nal to serve.

Roselle Char­tock, in her infi­nite­ly inter­est­ing book The Jew­ish World of Elvis Pres­ley, quotes one of Elvis’s costars from his movie Girl Hap­py, Joby Bak­er: “ One day . . . Elvis men­tioned how much he loved chitlins .” . . . Joby thought Elvis would like gribenes (scraps of fried chick­en or goose crack­lings and onion) . . . Joby made some for Elvis, who loved the dish. Joby said, Elvis used to ask me [in Yid­dish] to make gribenes. Esppes schtick­el gribenes? . . . It was his favorite food besides fried peanut but­ter and banana sandwiches.’ ”

From The Cook and the Rab­bi: Recipes and Sto­ries to Cel­e­brate the Jew­ish Hol­i­days by Zoe Zak and Susan Simon. Reprint­ed by per­mis­sion of Coun­try­man Press.

Susan Simon has been illus­trat­ing chil­dren’s books for over 30 years. Almost a Minyan” is her 18th book. Illus­tra­tion is a fam­i­ly affair passed down to her by her beloved grand­fa­ther. She is also trained to give work­shops in art therapy.