World Cup Tuna Butties

Tuna Butties

I arranged to travel to the 1982 World Cup Finals in Spain with my Ballinamallard school friends. They were coming over by coach on the Belfast boat and the plan was to meet them in Liverpool and jump on board for the ride down to the Costa Dorada. This had to happen at some ridiculous time of the morning, like 630 which meant getting a train from Manchester at about 5. I was terrified of oversleeping so I sat up all night and John Axon kept me awake providing videos, sustinence and tales of adventure with his bolas. Anyway, I made it onto the coach and another largely sleepless night followed as the two drivers swapped shifts and kept the bus rolling south, across the Channel and down through France, towards the Pyrenees. What sustained me on that journey was Janice thoughtfully preparing me an enormous batch of tuna butties wrapped up in tin foil. There were at least half a dozen of them, a straightforward well-seasoned tuna mayonnaise mix in a soft wholemeal roll. Crucially however, a healthy dash of tomato sauce was added to the blend, giving it some colour and piquancy. There was also a light addition of salad – some thinly-sliced cucumber and a sprig of lettuce. My mates pulled my leg at these ‘butties’ – it was a name not familiar to those on the other side of the Irish Sea. ‘Who made these for you, Bet Lynch?’ Perhaps it was the blend of omega-3 oils with a touch of lycopene, but they were quite delicious and sustaining in a way that no food, before or since has ever quite been able to match. I struggled for some time to master the contentious issue of how much sauce to add, but even now, if I ever make such a sandwich filling, it revives and revitalizes, filling my head with thoughts of adventure, a journey into the sun and memories of the excitement of that first teenage foray into a foreign land.

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