Not since the Italian Ministry of Agriculture cosied up to McDonald's for a marketing campaign earlier this year has the good reputation of Italian food been so sorely tried. Tesco's lasagne sandwich (let's call it the lasandwich) is described as follows in the accompanying press release:
"Between two thick slices of white bread, you'll find a generous filling of diced beef in a tangy tomato and herb sauce, layered with cooked pasta sheets and finished with a creamy cheddar, ricotta and mayonnaise dressing."As many people will attest, a chunk of crusty white smeared with a dollop of homemade ragu is an undeniable joy, so how does this effort measure up?
The first thing that hits you on opening the packet is a faint but distinct whiff of tuna, an inauspicious start for a beefy sandwich. Biting down, the texture is soft and claggy, the cheesy sauce acting as a lubricant to bring the cotton wool bread firmly into contact with your dental enamel from where it refuses to budge without the aid of a fingernail. The diced beef is beefy in the way that a cheap beefburger is beefy - redolent of the artificial flame-grilled flavour favoured by certain fast food outlets and devoid of any garlic, oregano or other identifiable attempt at Italian-ness. Quite where the pasta sheet in the middle disappears to is a mystery - it's there when you bite down, and gone by the time you swallow. Overall, the effect is of a saladless, cold, lightly pre-chewed beefburger.
I didn't really like it (you might have guessed) but a colleague, who shall remain nameless, said it was 'quite nice' and lamented the fact she'd already had lunch, which goes to show it takes all sorts to make a world.
Just how was this monster conceived? According to the marketing blurb "whether you're looking for a hearty lunch on a crazy on-the-go day, a quick bite in between work and your evening game of footie or a filling post-pub feast, Tesco's new Lasagne Sandwich is the sarnie for you." Which, when you discover that the selfsame chain are also marketing singing sandwiches which chant like a football crowd when opened makes you wonder whether the lasandwich was originally intended to be scoffed to the tinny strains of O Sole Mio.
Maybe the marketing people are just trying a bit too hard in their efforts to help the sandwich bite back against wraps. The press release refers to the Britishness of the sandwich, a nod to our national pride which seems as out of place here as it was when deployed in an effort to flog Marks and Spencer's 75p jam sandwich last year. Both are a world away from that magnificent Edwardian classic, the shooter's sandwich, basically two steaks in a hollowed out loaf claimed by Tim Hayward to be a strong contender for the title of best sandwich in the world.
Does the launch of the lasandwich allow us to identify the point where supermarket sandwiches scraped through the bottom of the barrel and started digging up the cellar floor, or is there worse out there? What's the worst sandwich you've seen on shelves, and what are you prepared to admit making in the privacy of your own, late-night kitchen?
Owners of Italian salumeri's will weep in disgust.
I followed the comments hoping to hear something more disgusting than this. What I was surprised to find was that it wasn't the abominable concept or the cheap and presumably nasty ingredients that bothered the readers but the idea of 'double carbing' OH! THE HORROR!