Hi, I’m the Guerilla Griller, and welcome to the first of a series on food. It’s for foodies, anti-foodies, the young, the old, the wealthy, the poor, the vegetarian, the dedicated carnivore – it’s for people who eat, and that’s everyone, right?
REM sang that Everybody Hurts, but I sing Everybody Eats, so let’s get real about what we stuff into our faces. Let’s make the quickest, simplest meal a pleasure, and the most elaborate a work of love rather than a chore. Let us zing our palates, satisfy our soul, comfort our tummies, indulge us, energise us, keep us healthy while not neglecting the treats.
Let me introduce you to the Cheese Sandwich Concept, which should pretty much tell you where I’m coming from. It’s not really a recipe, but, hey, why not follow it if you like: you’ll get a great sandwich.
Scenario One: you go to the supermarket or convenience store. You pick up a sliced loaf – you know the type, the one that has never been near a nugget of yeast, but has been fluffed up by having air blown through the dough (the Chorleywood Process, fact fans). I’m talking about your typical, everyday, sliced loaf – millions sold every day.
Then you go to the chill cabinet, buy a pack of sliced cheese. Make sure it’s cheap, mild and unthreatening. You can probably find some hothouse tomatoes in the next chiller; grab a pack – they’ll all look exactly the same, and be equal size.
Go home and make your sandwich.
Scenario Two: (you can do this at the supermarket, but why not visit your local baker, greengrocer, deli etc if you have one). Buy some great bread: it will almost certainly be one you have to cut yourself. Your choice; white, wholegrain, rye, sourdough, ciabatta, a crusty baguette, whatever tickles your fancy, but above all, make it a loaf with flavour and texture.
Then choose a cheese you like – a really strong, crumbly cheddar, an oozing brie, perhaps something local and regional to you. Not, though, something that has been made in a huge slab by some hideous industrial process. Something made by people who actually like cheese. Now for the tomatoes. What? There are only the hothouse ones; it’s out of season. Then DON’T buy tomatoes; get some pickles instead. This is an important part of the Cheese Sandwich Concept: it there’s nothing good available, do without. But, hopefully, and for the purposes of this scenario, there are some lovely, ripe, flavoursome, deep red toms in store, and you get yourself a bunch.
Go home and make your sandwich.
Spot the difference? One sandwich is made with generic, pretty tasteless ingredients, whose only virtue is that they are cheap, easily available, and always, always the same. Your second sandwich tastes great, has real texture and deep flavour, will satisfy you, nourish you, and do you good on so many levels.
This is the Cheese Sandwich Concept. It doesn’t have to be cheese; choose ham, fish, egg, hummus. It doesn’t even have to be a sandwich: the concept is all.
All very well, I hear you say, but this sandwich costs more than my regular one; maybe twice, three times as much. Hey, I’m on a low income and I’ve got more than one mouth to feed. And I say to you, hey back. If you’ve got a low income, then don’t waste your hard earned and precious money on garbage; low quality, low nutrition, low flavour, low enjoyment mouthfill. Spend your money instead on something cheap but good.
You’d like a steak, but good steak costs a lot of money, and this week your wallet is hurting. Ok, buy yourself some good quality chuck steak, skirt or shin beef, cut it into nice cubes if the butcher hasn’t already done it for you, slice up some tasty veggies, add stock, maybe some herbs, put it in a pot and cook it slowly for a couple of hours. Delicious, simple and easy on the bank balance.
You see, cheap food that is cheap because its of low quality really isn’t cheap at all; they are stealing your money, and giving you something that really isn’t what it says it is.
The Cheese Sandwich Concept says, whatever your budget, buy something GOOD. Some of the best food you can ever eat will cost you pennies, and in later articles I’ll show you how. But I’m not anti-luxury; if you’ve saved up, had a windfall, or are just generally financially comfortable, or even downright wealthy, the same rules apply. I’ll give you some ideas for the posh stuff too; it would be nice to know what to do with the fancy things when you can get them.
You know, I’m going to eat every day, and I expect you are too. Whatever your budget, eat something good. What kind of sandwich would you prefer – even if it’s not a sandwich?