Earlier this year, I met with sculptor Alan LeQuire who was responsible for building the statue of Athena in Nashville’s Parthenon, constructed for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897. Nashville’s Parthenon is a model of the structure that was built in Athens, Greece, during the 5th century Golden Age. The statue, though part of the original, is a recent addition in Nashville.
In the Greece of Pericles, the huge statue of Athena was positioned at one end of the Parthenon’s central chamber. The statue was originally created by the artist Phidias before being removed by the Romans; it may have ended up in Constantinople. There are some images of the Athena on Greek coins and engraved gems, some miniature sculptures and a description by the historian Pausanius.
Because documentation is scarce and the original statue has not survived, LeQuire was somewhat on his own regarding how to portray the face of the goddess. He told me that he chose a perfect model of beauty that many people in this part of the world could relate to: Elvis Presley. Presley recorded hundreds of his songs in Nashville, and you can see lineaments of the young King in the face of the Greek goddess.
There are many legends surrounding the life and times of the man who many credit with popularizing rock n’ roll, and his epic eating habits are equally legendary.
There’s the story about the time Elvis got a hankering for a sandwich called the Fool’s Gold Loaf he’d enjoyed once in Denver, which consisted of a hollowed-out loaf of French bread stuffed with peanut butter, jelly, and bacon. To satisfy his craving, the King immediately had Sonny and Red bring ’round the Caddy and take them all to the airport so they could fly to Denver on his private jet and have one – actually twenty-two – of those delicious sandwiches right then and there. The King rarely deigned to exercise any kind of impulse control. It was, for a time, good to be King.
Of all the many loves of Elvis, peanut butter was surely near the top of his list.
One of Elvis’ favorite foods was a peanut butter and ‘nanner sandwich: white bread fried in butter, filled with peanut butter and sliced bananas.
Carolyn tried a bite of mine and pronounced it delicious, and it was pretty good, though I didn’t use one-third of a stick of butter to fry it, as the King’s minions would have done. Without a lot of additional fat from the butter, it’s actually, surprising, not all that unhealthy a sandwich.
Elvis’ birthday is tomorrow, January 8, and he would have been 80. I plan to mark the day with another breakfast peanut butter and ‘nanner sandwich…or perhaps a Fool’s Gold Loaf, which I’m guessing I can prepare at home for substantially less than the $45 ($65 in today’s dollars) that Elvis paid for his. But the King cared little for mere money…or, apparently, his health.
Anyway, I make this sandwich as an offering to one of first gods of Rock, to be eaten in remembrance of him.
Long live the King!