Sunday, August 06, 2006

Club Sandwich

My first experience of Western food was a Club Sandwich. My father used to work for the Merlin Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, it’s only 5-star hotel, and had accommodation there as part of his package. It was luxurious by Malaysia’s standards for that time – an actual suite with a living room and bedroom. Of course there was room service too; which was how I experienced these heights of Western decadence.

Sometimes on the few occassions we visited his suite my parents would order room service. The food would arrive on white plates with flat-top silver covers. We had such delicacies as omelette and Club Sandwiches. It was also the first time I tasted parsley – the ubiquitous in hotel food in the 80’s. I was told not to eat it as it was decoration. I persisted anyway and was surprised at its astringent taste.

We never lived at the suite, although I think we may have stayed one or two nights. I think my parents thought that a hotel was no place to bring up a child. My mother worked and so I used to stay with my grandmother who took care of me. I think the reason my parents did not live her much was because this was during a time when my parents were just about to buy a home that would house my mother’s immediate family: her two sisters, her brother and her parents. My father would still stay at his mother’s place as would my mother at hers.

For me the classic Club Sandwich is made with toasted white bread without crusts and cut into triangles. The filling may vary, but must always contain either bacon or smoked ham. Chicken may be permitted, but some sort of fresh component, e.g. lettuce or tomato is also vital. There must be three slices of bread in each sandwich, otherwise it’s just a fat sandwich, not a Club Sandwich. I’m sure there are other definitions about what makes a classic Club, but these are mine.

The BLT Club Sandwich at (£5.95) does not quite fit the ideal, although it was very delicious. The bread was toasted, albeit multigrain and with crusts and curved edges; only two slices of bread were used. The chips were marginally passable, i.e. cooked in fresh oil but not crisp or hot. I washed this down with a Giddy Giraffe (£3.50) smoothy made with papaya, mint and other tropical fruits.

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