The problem is you, not the sandwiches
Sorry, has this man actually ever been to London or New York?
At present we are offered a ‘choice’ between an oligopoly of three or four chains, all spending so much money on advertising and formulaic minimalist interiors, that they haven’t got enough left over to spend on a filling, so have to make up for this with mayonnaise. The main alternatives are those italian sandwich bars, which are scarcely any more appetising.
Yet if real, vigorous competition were to arrive – a new cafe selling better food, for a decent price – would anyone notice? If it was in the toytown world of Borough Market, maybe, but elsewhere people would be either too distracted to spot it or then too busy to remember it. The problem in such situations, as the left liked to complain about markets, is inadequate information and rationality. Whereas the discerning New Yorker would discover such a place, tell their friends, and carry on eating there until an even better option had arisen, the Londoner dolefully heads off to Pret for another ‘Bacon Mayo Supermayo’.
I mean, seriously. London’s Italian cafés are pretty good; our chains aren’t at all bad (Eat, Leon and Pret are better than most of the food, chain or non-chain, that gets served anywhere, even if you eat the no-mayo sandwiches, which is a lot of them); and most of New York’s delis are absolutely bloody awful…
Is there a word, beyond ‘lying’, for this kind of claim – that a sandwich served by a company is inherently worse than a sandwich served by a worker, that a small grocery shop provides a better range and better service than a supermarket, that Fawlty Towers is better than a Malmaison, and so on? It’s analogous to the pastoralist belief that 12 hours a day of back-breaking manual labour on a starvation diet followed by death at 40 is better than an oh so unnatural modern lifestyle – and very nearly as silly.
Update: although I stand by my views on London sandwiches in general, the tuna melt I had this lunchtime from Bagel Factory is one of the most inedible things I’ve ever been served – I had to throw it away after a single bite. And I’ve happily eaten chicken feet and fish eyes…