This is an essay about poverty

An unfinished essay from a forthcoming, yet to be named nor well thought out essay collection.

People can do some wild shit with peanut butter.

There are the obvious things like sandwiches and cookies, or the more incredible things like peanut butter chicken. Peanut butter never costs that much, unless you’re bougie like me. You can still get some peanut butter for under 2$, but I tend to stick to the five and six-dollar varieties.

All-natural. I deserve nothing but the best.

Every so often, if I’m having a great day at the grocery store and have a little more in my food budget than normal, (who am I kidding, I don’t budget for shit), I’ll glance at the formidable and deeply unknowable 12$ nut butters. I don’t know about you, but I was well into my adulthood that when I found out that peanut butter implied the existence of other, more delicious nut butters.

Cashew butter. Almond butter. Natural nut butters with the golden oil on top a bed of extra crunchy peanut butter. I never knew peanut butter could vary so greatly in tastes the more you spent on it. The same could be said for lots of things. It’s funny how much more you grow to appreciate food once you realize that better, less shitty versions of it exist. It seems strange to put some much thought into so simple a staple, but boy am I happy that I started springing for the good stuff.

When I was a kid, peanut butter sometimes came in large, metal cans. Like something out of a war-porn movie. I don’t know what it was about food pantries that wanted to make the act of eating free food as drab as possible, but they succeeded. We always had peanut butter. “They always give you at least two jars of it,” My mom would say when she would return with the large cardboard box of food. Most of the stuff in the box was dry goods: giant bags of rice and dry beans, canned vegetables, that sort of thing. I used to wish that the peanut butter that came out of the box was name brand. Those Jiff commercials made peanut butter look like caviar. But name brands were not to be found among the loose pieces of dry macaroni and a single hunk of frozen meat.

There was a normalcy to the level of financial instability we had. It was a constant. It was familiar. There were other kids whose parents needed every bit of help that they could get, and there was no shame in it. There were other kids parents whose electricity got shut off, who had a large candle and battery supply, and new ways to keep food fresh.

When you don’t’ have much money, you get really really creative.

Reverent toward impossibly huge robots and Folgers coffee.