Lockdown. Tumbleweed blows across Market Street. Boris has ordered us away from the pub. The Jigger Inn hath closed her doors for the foreseeable future. The sweet nectar of club has never seemed further away.
Fear not, the show must go on. As George Orwell once said “in times of universal deceit, making a club sandwich is a revolutionary act”. Or something like that. We budding clubsters will not be deprived of the one and only thing that can make the crippling paranoia of Covid-19 dissipate. Therefore, I present to you; the self-isolation, DIY club sandwich.
Despite being an avid student of club sandwichry for many a year, I am conscious to get this right. I consult a YouTube video of John Torode (aka the one no one likes from Masterchef) demonstrating how to make the dream club. He outlines the essentials; serve cold, no butter and ensure that one ingredient doesn’t dominate. As I often say, it’s all about the ratios.
Furthermore, I decide to enlist some help. Enter Anna Claudia Clarke. Mine and Anna’s blossoming relationship is built on two key tenets; her culinary ability and my pish patter. A natural division of labour is therefore formed- she’ll do the cooking, I’ll do the writing. I inform her that my review will be firm but fair. She gives me a look that suggests that if I give her a bad write-up, she will engage in some severe social distancing towards me. If she expects me to sacrifice my neutrality when reviewing sandwiches so as to stay out of the doghouse, she has another thing coming.
Tesco. Ingredients. The hoarders have yet to get their hands on the essentials required to make the club. Hellman’s Mayo, Warburtons toastie bread, cold chicken breast, a packet of bacon, eggs, some lettuce and a big-boi tomato are fired into the basket. Total price: £9.15, working out at £2.29 per sandwich. You can’t argue with that value.
And so it begins. Clarke opts to grill the bread instead of toasting, which I am instructed to keep an eye on. She then fries off two rashers of bacon and boils an egg, slicing the latter using an egg slicer someone gave her for her 21st birthday (who invited them?). After the -perfectly grilled (might I add) bread is retrieved, the assembly process begins. As you all know by now, there’s little glory to be had in going easy on the mayo and she lathers the stuff on- a woman after my own heart.
The result is a joy to behold- sumptuous, juicy and thiccccc. I know just from looking that it is going to be a mammoth task to tuck away this bad boy. The presentation is simple yet elegant, garnished with some Kettle Chips and, of course, slaw.
However, good presentation does not maketh a sandwich, the flavour has got to be there also. And boy-oh-boy the result is gosh diddle darn good. Firstly, it is assembled to perfection and only a tiny shrapnel of tomato falls, impressive given the sheer size of the club. Furthermore, the bacon has the premium amount of crisp, providing a smoky flavour to proceedings. The bread is perfect, not too doughy but not unnecessarily crispy, a common faux pas which dries out the sandwich something chronic. Egg is often a banana skin but not so here- half a boiled egg in each of our sandwiches is the perfect amount and allows for a variation in flavour that is well received in the Coulter gullet.
Alas, all is not perfect. The chicken, a cheap Tesco variety, would have been better chopped and grilled, an oversight. Furthermore, to our shame, the club falls foul to the most treacherous ideology known to man; mayo-conservatism. It was not intended, Anna yielded the Hellman’s like a woman possessed but somehow it came up short. I would like to take this time to apologise to all the chefs I have criticised for under-naising- it is indeed harder to get those all-important ratios right than we expected. Despite these drawbacks, the overall experience was overwhelmingly positive and will only get better with practice!
There you have it folks, hope is not lost. Out of desperation, happiness can be found in the most unlikely of places. For now I want you all to forget about the advice issued by government, NHS or academic community. I have a free prescription for you. Over the next few weeks things will get tough and morale will be low. At this point, I urge you to do what you know is right; fire up the toaster, get the frying pan on and spread that mayo thick, baby. The result will be enough to cure the most virulent of pandemics.
Be good to yourselves, look after your loved ones and let the club do the rest. God bless.