If you live in, or travel around, any of the UK’s larger cities; have you tried to get a simple cheese and onion cob?
Try if you want to – but it’s almost impossible to obtain this previous staple of the general publics’ lunch, I tried 7 or 8 bakers last week and none were able to oblige. There was a whiff of hope at one shop, when after having eyed me with suspicion, a member of staff offered to make one and disappeared round the back – only to return 5 minutes later (yes, really, 5 minutes) with the news that there was no onion…
Instead, you will be offered all manner of other rubbish, purporting to be an ‘improvement’ on your simple requirements.
There is a plethora of baguette retailers – most of whom wouldn’t know a real baguette if it bit them in the ass – the pale, undercooked rubbish they foist onto the public would shame a real French baker.
What lies behind this disappearance is of course the commercialisation of your lunch; most of the new breed of lunch retailers make a big deal out of freshness, but the bread is mostly delivered part cooked, to be finished off on site in a big fan heater.
Fillings are decided on by a panel of experts with a keen eye on the profits; a cheese and onion cob wouldn’t shift at £2.50, but a Tomato blushed, rosemary scented foot long ‘baguette’ stuffed with sun ripened peppers from the slopes of Kilimanjaro and dill scented wild salmon could go for £3.95.
The commercialisation is further evidenced by the appearance of chain stores, including that one that sells ‘subs’ – whatever they are – I have never managed to get in one of their shops find out – the smell emanating from the door makes me heave.
Another ‘ready to eat’ merchant now sells half a sandwich – ‘half the dough’, oh how I laughed…
A further ‘envelope pushing’ line is the ‘bread less sandwich’ – what the hell is a bread less sandwich? We used to call it a salad.
Is it me?…