As a child of the seventies, my sandwich memories are in fairness, somewhat bland. Jars of paste and cheese spread featured heavily on my weekly sandwich menu. Sometimes, there were thin slices of cucumber adding a tiny hint of texture, but generally, my two slices of bread were held together with this thin strip of filling. By the time my lunch time had arrived, for some unexplained reason, the middle of the sandwich had joined together to form one complete slice of soggyness that gently flopped as I picked it out of my lunch box by the crust. Thank goodness for the two-bar Kit Kat that always accompanied them.
Don’t think that this is some tale of a childhood struggle though, it’s how most of our lunches were. I’d not heard of bagels or wraps and a Quesadilla was just plain rude! If I’d said to my Mum that I wanted a Bagel for lunch, she’d have told me to stop talking rubbish and just eat what’s there. An avocado was just a reference to the colour of the bathroom suite, it wasn’t a real thing to mash on toast with poached eggs. That was crazy talk.
Our most exotic sandwiches came in the form of the ‘Breville’ toasted sandwich maker. The ‘Breville’ was something from the future! A cheese and ham toasted sandwich with all the edges sealed together, pushing the cordon bleu boundaries. There was (and still is) a downside to this toasted sandwich and that’s the sizzling temperature that the cheese heats up to. Taking a big bite of Breville was a mistake, burning cheese stuck to the roof of your mouth, often for days. You had to be careful.
Fast forward to our current lockdown situation and as in a lot of households, the kitchen has become the nerve centre of the house – it’s definitely what I’d call a ‘high traffic’ area. School and zoom meetings don’t run on the same timetable so it’s just pot luck as to when you can get in there to prepare a meal. The dogs are on constant alert, pacing around waiting for dropped crumbs of food. I think that lockdown must be a dog’s idea of heaven.
The soggy sandwiches of yesteryear just won’t suffice in today’s world. Lunch time is a sandwich extravaganza. First off is your base choice. Will it be a bagel, a seeded wrap, hunks of sourdough or a maybe a panini. Then it’s the choice of filling. It’s not an easy decision, actually every day, it’s a long drawn out process that pushes my patience to the limit.
What To Have?
My standard request to ‘just have cheese’ is always met with a torrent of abuse back. It’s as though I’m suggesting they go and run naked into the canal. What am I thinking? ‘Just cheese’. No, they’re not having anything unless there’s at least five ingredients and with garnish on the side please. (Luckily my garnish of crisps is always acceptable).
As someone who thought cheese came in a jar until I was about twelve, the thought of some lovely mature cheddar on bread (with real butter), makes me smile … a lot. But it’s just not that simple here in lockdown life. Mozzeralla, houmus, ham, vine ripened tomatoes, chicken – you name it it’s going on the ‘sandwich’ – sandwiches that just don’t fit in the Breville machine, as they’re too wide and full. My children will never experience the ‘Breville Burn’. Can you imagine their face if I produced a jar of meat paste? I think my daughter would be straight on to Childline.
Yes, times have indeed changed. I don’t miss my lunchtime soggy sandwiches, happily they’re a memory now, but I do miss the simplicity of it all. No discussions, just the simple enjoyment and pleasure of knowing that once I’d eaten my sandwiches, there was my treasured Kit-Kat.
I’m a self confessesd food lover but so much choice is indeed a double edged sword especially for lunch in lockdown.