Soggy Rolls

“I love it when they’re soggy,” I said. “You know, a little chewy from the juice of the tomato, or the cold cuts, or whatever you put on.” I was talking, of course, about the rolls. One hand on the steering wheel, the other on an aluminum-foil-wrapped “Brötchen,” as we call them in Germany, my friend agreed – and sunk his teeth into the delicious mix of dough and salami.

You’d never make soggy rolls at home. You don’t bake them fresh, garnish them with mortadella and cheese, then wrap them in foil and put them in the fridge. The only time you have soggy rolls is when no other kind is available. They’re a sign of adventure.

Back then, my friend’s mom must’ve made at least eight rolls for us, a little overkill for a one-hour drive. I was just tagging along – mental support for his job interview. The car we drove in was a blue jeep. His interview happened in a grocery store. He said it went okay and shared all kinds of details on the way back.

Eventually, he got the job: A coveted spot in a work-and-study program at one of Germany’s biggest retailers. It was a great opportunity, especially given his grades. He would go on to make the most of it, and I’m happy I played a small role in his story.

Whatever I can remember about this day, it all spools off from that moment I see him biting into his mushy sandwich. We all have memories like this, minted not from pleasure or extreme emotion, but from the details along the way – details which, ultimately, stand for something much bigger.

Cherish your soggy rolls.