Monday, 24 March 2008

Join our club

I'm far too innately slothful to be a campaigner of any kind. But lately something has fuelled my righteous anger – or the closest thing to it I'll ever have. It's not so much an injustice, comrades, it's a case of idiots just plain getting it wrong. 

I am hereby launching, only semi-apologetically, which is pretty strong stuff for me, the campaign to Keep The Club Sandwich Classic (KTCSC). I need to work on my acronym, I know. The club sandwich, for vegetarians reading, is a toasted (pay attention, this becomes important) sandwich, stacked as high as the sky, with salad, bacon, turkey or chicken, and often many slices of bread. Held together with cocktail sticks, it is a mainstay of hotel lounge cuisine – why, I have even eaten one in the lounge of a hotel in Kyoto. And it is as much a part of my childhood as hand-me-down Sindy dolls and The Good Life. It has fed me and thousands like me perfectly well for more years than I have been alive. So why meddle? I know I am a purist about these things. I can't begin to imagine who would ever want a passion fruit KitKat, or Marmite with a touch of champagne, or baked beans on a pizza or... but let me tell you how all this started.

The KTCSC story begins some months ago in the newly refurbished, shiny-escalatored branch of John Lewis in Cambridge, with us queueing for the cafeteria, which these days is called a brasserie. It was a chilly day and I craved something to thaw my icy extremities. We were handed the menu while we waited for a table and I saw my shangri la – a club sandwich. We sat down and ordered straight away – two club sandwiches, please, and a diet coke and a  still mineral water – and they bought our food straight away. I mean before our drinks even arrived. But what they bought was a cold, cold sandwich, so very cold, with a limp sprig of salad, some ham – ham! in a club sandwich! – masquerading as bacon, and some flaccid slices of turkey that looked as though they had come from the same family of animal products as luncheon meat. (Do they even make luncheon meat now? Or has Jamie Oliver run it out of town?) This was bread that had never even been in the same room as a toaster, let alone had any kind of actual brush with its fiery jaws. Disappointment does not begin to cover it.

Then, yesterday, we took a break from a hard day's decorating to go for lunch in Dulwich's most upmarket cafe. They have more types of tea than there are Heinz varities. I had previously glimpsed the promise of a club sandwich on the menu – but your sophisticated grasp of narrative will lead you to surmise correctly that this would not end well.

I could have a salmon club sandwich. What? I could have one with fancy ham – ham! in a club sandwich! – and some ludicrous farmer's market cheese. I could have another variety too blindingly painful to the senses for me to remember. No classic club sandwich though, done to perfection in God's own way. It sickens me. But this is where the fight starts. WHO'S WITH ME? Oh OK, just me. 


Kai said...

The discovery that nobody is with you on this - or, at least, nobody is bothered enough to comment - is hugely disturbing and heartbreaking. A "salmon club sandwich"? Jesus. This is what happens when good people do nothing.

Miss Jones said...

Thank god you're here. I knew if I waited long enough, support would come.