I never really used to read A.A. Gill when he was restaurant critic of the Sunday Times, though of course I devoured his famous takedown of the Parisian restaurant L’Ami Louis, part of which ran like this:
‘Nothing I have eaten or heard of being eaten here prepared me for the arrival of the veal kidneys en brochette. Somehow the heat had welded them together into a gray, suppurating renal brick. It could be the result of an accident involving rat babies in a nuclear reactor. They don’t taste as nice as they sound.
Pictures like the one above have always suggested that he and I wouldn’t be best buddies, but I’ve been reading his collection Talk Table and I think it’s pretty good. In an article titled ‘Picnic’ he writes, ‘Sandwiches were made for the big outdoors; whatever you do, don’t get cute with them. Don’t stuff them with mountains of esoteric gear. Peanut butter on Wonderloaf is far nicer than aubergine kumquat and herring on focaccia. Sandwiches are engineering not cooking; they must have stickablity, or when you unpack them they’ll look like a badly held bridge hand.’
I don’t actually know what a badly held bridge hand looks like but I’m on board with the rest of what he says.
How different from the episode of the TV show Taskmaster in which contestants were told to make an ‘exotic sandwich.’ Now I don’t give a hoot about Taskmaster but I am quite fond of Mel Giedroyc who was one of the contestants, and she made (I’m quoting) ‘a sweet multi-layered sandwich out of white bread, Turkish delight, Crunchie bars, KitKats, Double Deckers, Chocolate Oranges, M&Ms, chocolate spread, Maltesers, Twix, Snickers, chocolate eggs and marshmallows.’
Now we all know this is just junk TV and who can be bothered to rail against it but the obvious objection is that there’s nothing remotely exotic about any of those ingredients. And the end result looked terrible, perhaps even like a badly held bridge hand.
Young Giedroyc is still ok by me, however.