Some might call it a tuna melt - but it really began as the tuna burger. This, you must understand, was before Julia Child ushered in the period of gourmet cooking. Open faced, toasted hamburger buns topped with tuna (mixed with just the right amount of mayo), canned tomatoes (I use the petite chopped), and enough cheese to make the tomato look like it’s taking a nap. You might ask what this has to do with a legacy - it’s a fair question.
My grandmother, Ruth Victoria Martin Teeter, first served this concoction to my mother, where the recipe came from, I have no idea. My mother made them for us, I made them for my family, and both my children make them. It isn’t about the recipe. It’s about the meal. I think we would all agree that society as a whole revolves around meals - always has.
One of my favorite parts of the Bible is where Jesus reinstates Peter after Peter has denied being Jesus disciple. Jesus had warned the disciples that the time was near when they would all desert Him. Peter vehemently denies that he would do such a thing, even goes so far as to proclaim he would die for Jesus. Jesus tells Peter that he will deny Him three times before the rooster crows that day. This comes to pass and Peter is devastated, sick at heart, and weeps bitterly.
Later, after the resurrection, some of the disciples go fishing, among them, Peter. Nothing unusual in this, they were fishermen before they were disciples. They catch nothing and are heading back to shore when a man on shore suggest they throw their net on the right side of the boat. They are doubtful, but figure it won’t hurt to try. The result? They struggle to haul in the net that now holds 153 fish! Yes, the Bible gives you the exact number - think there could be a tuna in that net? John is the first to realize that the stranger on shore is Jesus. Peter is so excited at the prospect of seeing Jesus that he jumps overboard and swims to shore, leaving the rest to tend the fish.
Can’t you feel Peter’s excitement, his love, his joy?! When he reaches shore, Jesus has prepared a meal - isn’t our Lord awesome! He is always feeding us, literally and spiritually! Jesus asks Peter the same question three times, “Do you love me?” To which Peter replies, “Yes”. You can read the full story here and here. I encourage you to read it in its entirety. Each time Peter replies, Jesus tells him what he wants him to do in life. Who of us, at some time, has not denied Christ? Isn’t it wonderful to know that when we ask for forgiveness and repent, He forgives us? He then strengthens us and changes us so that we do not repeat the past.
God’s love is greater than we can imagine. The closest I can come, is the love I have for my children. I would gladly give my life for them, but I can’t say I would give their lives up for anyone. But God gave His son for us. WOW! How does this relate to that tuna burger?
Never underestimate the value of time spent around a meal. The last supper was were Jesus told Peter he would deny Him and it was another meal where He reinstated Peter. A few other examples: Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast and twice fed thousands with only a basket full of bread and fish. And let’s not forget that the original sin was all due to the desire to eat an apple!
Today, a lot of meals are hurried - we rush from one activity to another. My memories of meals with my parents and sibling and those I enjoyed with my children, are priceless. Recently I spoke with a friend of my daughter. It was the first time we had seen each other in many years. When she realized who I was her response was, “The last time I saw you was when you made those tuna melts for us! I make them for my family!” Her words made my heart smile and warmed me from the inside out. Something so simple can make memories not only for your family, but all who dine at your table. Share the love - even if it is the shape of a tuna burger.