September 28, 2012

The Evolution of a Spaghetti Sandwich. ~ Ian Welch

Photo: [Ian Welch]

Can you actually have a sandwich without meat between the wheat?

This picture of my dad says so much. As soon as I saw it I had to share the “Evolution of the Sandwich King.”

You ever heard of a Spaghetti Sandwich? My Dad loves them, eats them all the time.

The back-story here is my dad didn’t always eat Spaghetti Sandwiches; he pretty much was the “King of Sandwich Making” as far back as I can remember. Dad didn’t cook dinner, but he always took care of his own lunch.

My family moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia when I was five. My father had been a U.S. Navy fighter pilot and as the Vietnam War ended, he pursued a career in commercial aviation. The national airline of Saudi Arabia was expanding and hiring ex-military pilots.

This was a far cry from average life in the U.S. We did have cable television—literally a cable running from a guys Betamax a few blocks away to our house. Whatever he watched we watched. We had running water from the desalination plant but I recall it was pretty inconsistent. We boiled our drinking water and had all kinds of contraptions to purify the tap water. Each house had a couple hundred gallon water tank on the roof which was our backup.

It also served as our swimming pool; needless to say my parents did not know about the neighborhood kids hanging out in their fresh water tank.

Women could not drive in Saudi Arabia, and until the later years, acquiring food was a serious chore. Jeddah was on the Red Sea and the beach was untouched by civilization. We had Sulaman, our local veggie guy who came by in a truck from time to time; when he was around, all the kids would run home and let their moms know.

I have a very vivid memory of tuna fish and water crackers, which my father was in charge of. I don’t recall what else we ate; I think lots of spaghetti.

My mother is Swiss so we spent summers in Switzerland. Swiss sandwiches tend to be pretty lumpy—a direct correlation to why my mother never made good sandwiches. The Swiss farmers have a local bread that never goes bad and literally takes a saw to cut. That with salami, cheese and mustard was all you needed.

When Dad was around, we would leave for a hike in the morning and usually get back at sunset. (Dad used to always sneak a couple of beers in my pack and unveil them at our halfway spot).

Again, sandwiches are a fond memory; nothing like working for lunch.

When my Mom & Dad made it back to the U.S., they lived on the beach in Jupiter, Florida. My parents like to work out in the mornings; Dad usually an ocean swim, then come home, have one beer and (are you following along?)…a sandwich. Ham, roast beef, turkey, chicken or leftover meat bits from dinner on bread. Always cheese, mustard and mayo.

After my quadruple bypass surgery in 2011 and subsequent announcement of my complete commitment to a Plant Based diet to begin the heart disease reversal process, my parents showed their support by also going Plant Based. It was a wonderful portrayal of solidarity and I will never forget it.

My Dad had always been in good shape, rowing crew at the Naval Academy and rarely missed his daily 2500 yard swim. But as he approached his late 60s, the pounds were catching up as well as a couple of symptoms and diagnoses. Long story short, he went from 213 pounds to a consistent 181 today. That is 32 pounds in less than two years; 32 pounds of fat that won’t be clogging up his well deserved retirement.

So, Dad’s joy in life was now in jeopardy; could he actually have a sandwich without meat between the wheat? Yes. His title as “King of Sandwich Making” continues and his kingdom is flourishing.

Keep an open mind when it comes to old habits. It is not a loss if there is a measurable gain. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity.

Long live the Spaghetti Sandwich and the man who created it.

Love ya Dad.


On March 22, 2011 Ian Welch had quadruple bypass surgery at the age of 40. It has been the single most powerful event in his life. He and his wife have taken control of the disease and are in the process of reversing it through nutrition and exercise.



Editor: Jennifer Townsend

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