Boxing Day sandwiches and Christmas pudding crisps: it's a hard no from me - Gaby Soutar

Supermarket Christmas sandwiches are a crime against humanity.

They always consist of three things: stodge, gristly meat and jam. I just don’t go there. I am the Ebenezer Scrooge of office lunches.

Maybe I could be tempted to buy one, if I didn’t work from home. However, the times that I did succumb, back in the day, I’d usually end up collapsed face first onto my keyboard while inhaling fossilised crumbs of lunches past.

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These are the heaviest and most sedating sandwiches known to man.

Leftovers Christmas sandwich with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce Pic: Magdalena Bujak/AdobeLeftovers Christmas sandwich with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce Pic: Magdalena Bujak/Adobe
Leftovers Christmas sandwich with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce Pic: Magdalena Bujak/Adobe

I think I’m unusual in my disdain, since the last time I was in Scotland on Sunday headquarters, you were nobody unless you were clutching a turkey club. The red packets were being carried into the office like Prada clutches. I had sushi that day.

There are always annual trends in this world of festive food. Aside from a focus on vegan options, this year’s inventions have a nostalgia-with-a-twist theme.

I’ve seen fridges stacked with sandwiches featuring pigs in blankets – otherwise known as oinks in eiderdowns or Tamworths in tank-tops.

The 2022 seasonal collections also include any protein that’s been slapped with cranberry sauce, toasties or the addition of Christmas ‘slaw, in M&S’s case. It’s not coleslaw anymore, so don’t use that word. The small mercy is that nobody seems to use Xmas any more either.

However, this year’s main trend appears to be the ubiquitous Boxing Day sandwich.

John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, and the supposed inventor of the genre – though the paupers had probably been doing it for centuries – must be spinning in his grave.

Offenders include Pret-a-Manger and Asda. Their creations invariably seem to contain cheese, ham and turkey.

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These are usually sealed into the sort of white sliced bread that always feels slightly floppy and damp, like a sock after someone has climbed a munro.

What’s Boxing Day-ish about those ingredients? This combination is almost identical to the Christmas sandwich.

I suppose they’re designed to celebrate the-day-after’s imagined leftovers, but with an added layer of fromage, as if it was a cheeky fridge-raiding afterthought.

However, it’d be more authentic if they created a sandwich that contained the tatty outer leaves of sprouts, a broken wishbone and the rejected Curly Wurly from a selection pack.

In our house, we never have anything nice leftover after Christmas. The next day invariably involves scratching around in the back of the fridge, and wondering if the local shop is open. Usually, we end up having noodles or scrambled eggs, because that’s all we have left.

That’s possibly because there are three children at the table. Each of them is as hollow as a bauble on the tree. They guzzle every scrap. All that’s left is bones, so the kitchen quickly resembles an elephant graveyard, with tinsel strewn tumbleweed blowing through.

There are no Tiny Tims in my family.

After lunch, there’s a 15-minute postprandial break before they start on the chocolate course. The freshly gifted Lindt reindeers have their metallic party outfits swiftly ripped off before they even have time to blush. They’re eaten, antlers and face first, so at least their suffering is brief. The clicking ankles go last.

Anyway, I don’t just want to moan about the sandwiches.

I also intend to have a pop at shop-bought crisps, with daft flavours becoming a huge deal over the past decade. Please make it stop.

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Tesco has gone too far and created a Christmas pudding flavour this year. That sounds awful, but I imagine that people will go for it, like they did with the sparkly Prosecco crisps that Markies and various copycats sold for a few years running.

The packet will be offered round, as a novelty, and family and friends will politely try a handful, then turn grey, in a style reminiscent of that Kristen Wiig wedding shop scene in Bridesmaids. I’m joking, I’m sure they’re magnificent, dried-fruit-flavoured crisps always are.

In common with almost everyone, I often end up with a random bag of festive beef Wellington or port and Stilton crisps and feel hugely disappointed. As you’ve spent about £4, you end up eating them anyway, then spend the rest of the day with a salt hangover.

Part of my resistance to all this junk is down to not wanting to peak too early. I intend to binge, but I don’t want to be bored of it when December 25 rolls round.

Once the festive eating floodgates open, it’s hard to slam them shut again. It’s like pushing Santa back up the chimney.

My particular weaknesses are mince pies and Christmas pudding, preferably with brandy butter. When I was small, it was my job to prepare that accompaniment. It’s eye-opening how much booze that butter can absorb.

Then mum would pour a glug of alcohol over the pudding and flambé. We’d eat the whole thing between the two of us, since nobody else was interested in that course. I’d feel so sleepy, aged about six, after my hefty dose of Courvoisier. It was the start of a life-long love affair.

I also love mince pies. My husband’s granny used to say that you shouldn’t speak when eating the first one of the year. Otherwise, it’s bad luck.

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The silence also allows you to savour it properly. These are the best things about Christmas, not those sandwiches or the crisps.

NB: If Pret wants to send me their Boxing Day Toastie, I’m willing to try it. Research purposes.



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