Eating a sandwich that somebody else has made is the greatest honour that can be bestowed upon the sandwich maker. If I eat your sandwich, it’s like saying- ‘I trust you. I know that your nails will be clean and that you will not fill this bready wonder with something I don’t like’. A good sandwich made for someone else, is a proclamation of friendship, kinship, understanding and a celebration of good hygiene habits.
If you are my true friend, I will sink my teeth into your sandwich without a second thought about what might be inside (that is to say-a sandwich that you’ve made for me. I won’t actually steal your sandwich because we are true friends and that’s not what true friends do). If you are my true friend, I know that it will be good cheese, sparingly spread flora or perhaps a dash of pesto; maybe even some lovingly prepared falafel and carefully arranged leaves. Thank you true friend. And well done.
There are many things that can go wrong with a sandwich. In the wrong hands there will be too much butter, a big slick of something horrible like mayonnaise, a hunk of ham (zut alors!) or a selection of human and or animal hairs for added roughage. Therefore it is absolutely imperative that the right person make your sandwich.
There will of course be occasions in life where you have to eat the wrong sandwich. This is more upsetting than those around you might realise. Everyone will have experienced a bad sandwich during childhood, but only the more sensitive sandwich consumers amongst us will remember the occasion vividly… One particularly bad sandwich type that sticks in my mind is the sandwich that is made by someone else’s mother who you have only just briefly met and who, although inscrutably clean, does not know your highly specific sandwich criteria. When it is handed to you wrapped up tightly in clingfilm, you must utter your most sincere thanks at this edible show of friendliness, and try not to show your wariness of what might be contained by the plastic sheet. You can already see the glaring white of highly processed bread, but you know that it is at least vegetarian (you made that much clear before production began). Whatever is in there, you must eat it through sheer politeness, and the already ingrained inability to waste food. You wait until you are really hungry, sat in the back of your friend’s parents’ car, and then you carefully peel back the wrapping, sniffing at the scents preserved beneath- the smells of someone else’s kitchen. It is not egg mayonnaise at least. You try to surreptitiously peel back the top layer without attracting unwanted attention and the accusations of- ‘Is something wrong with your sandwich?’ It looks like it is just cheese. It will be ok. Just eat it. (The first bite is always the hardest.) You sink in your teeth and are almost sent reeling backwards- HOW much butter is in this?? This is not Flora- this is BUTTER butter and this cheese is STRONG cheese! Oh man, I don’t know if I can do this… Can I do this? Come on, massive bites, massive bites. Have some orange juice. (No doubt the parent in this front seat is observing all of this in the wing mirror with a mixture of concern and hilarity, but nothing is said) You have made it. Everyone knows the rest of a packed lunch is child’s play.
Bought sandwiches are in no way safer. In fact, the refrigerated, sharp cornered triangles of mass-produced design may have passed hygiene specifications, but this sandwich category is not disaster free. There is something very wrong with a sandwich being made in a factory setting, arranged by a stranger in latex gloves. It is not surgery. It is not a science lab. But nor do I wish you to remove those gloves (unless it is to swap them for a pair that hasn’t touched the prawns) (urghhhh: genuine shudder). And all sandwiches should not look the same. It is a bit weird. It sort of defies the unwritten sandwich code. I wonder whether it struck the first buyers of the pre-made sandwich as a bit weird that they didn’t know whose hands had touched it. That is an uncooked article makes it much less trustworthy still.
Purchased sandwiches can still be good sandwiches. If you can watch them being put together at a sandwich bar and choose your own middle layer (I’m discarding the word ‘filling’ in regard to sandwich production because I think it is an inappropriate word; it makes you picture something being piped inside like that American squirty cheese or some sort of revolting fish paste…), you are set for a good lunch. No need to worry about the odds of there being mayonnaise lurking inside (why does everyone else in the world love mayonnaise?) because you have witnessed the entire production from start to finish. Phew.
*A note on sandwich stealing
Whilst the title of this article may seem to endorse sandwich stealing, it is only a reference to a sandwich made by another, for you specifically. Taking someone else’s sandwich is a crime as terrible as eating an intended sandwich is honourable.