We heard about the Toast Sandwich at Great British Chefs a few days ago and collectively rolled our eyes about it. At first I thought it was yet another supermarket trying to lamely get publicity for rolling out a “wacky” pre-packaged sandwich in an attempt to make it look good (remember the Lasagne Sandwich - sadly I do). But on further investigation we discovered through our strategic advisor Matthew Fort, that it was the resurrection of a …..err…. recipe by “none other than Mrs Isabella Beeton, the woman who gave us Collared Pig’s Face and Aunt Nelly’s Pudding.”
Photograph: Sarah Lee for The Guardian
The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), as an anniversary feature for its website, decided to “revive, the neglected mid-Victorian Sandwich to help the country through hard times”.
Dr John Emsley, of the RSC, said: “We could have gone for one of the thousands of recipes that Mrs Beeton employed, most of them being table-groaning creations full of meats.
"But, given the stern days we are yet to experience, we decided to go for an unknown dish that requires little money and little time, and which she devised to cater for less well-off people.
"You simply put a piece of dry toast between two slices of bread and butter, with salt and pepper to taste. I’ve tried it and it’s surprisingly nice to eat and quite filling. I would emphasise that toast sandwiches are also good at saving you calories as well as money, provided you only have one toast sandwich for lunch and nothing else.
"The RSC decided to promote Mrs Beeton’s toast sandwich because it might just be what we need to get us through the harsh economic times that are forecast.”
Quite frankly RSC I think you decided to do this because you knew that people like me would be screaming at their computer screen thinking, “Oh my God, how could people possibly eat a Toast Sandwich" and then emailing your article to all their friends.
I love the part that says “toast sandwiches are good at saving you calories …… provided you only have one toast sandwich for lunch and nothing else”. It’s genius. A piece of bread spread with lard is also quite good at saving you calories provided that’s the only thing you eat all day.
RSC employee Jon Edwards said: “In my student days I thought a meal of ‘9p noodles’ from Tesco was the epitome of thrift - but a toast sandwich is tastier, quicker, has more calories and comes in at just 7.5p.
Maybe more students should turn to Mrs Beeton for meals on the cheap.”
Hopefully they will discover better recipes than toast sandwiches.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve eaten crisp sandwiches and chip butties (Nigel Slater loves chip butties too, so please don’t judge me), but I wouldn’t claim they had any nutritional value or were both good at saving you calories and had more calories than value noodles (slightly confused why both are a good idea).
If you’ve got to this stage of the blog post & still want to try Mrs Beeton’s recipe, it’s here at your own risk, with nutritional values provided by the RSC
Mrs Beeton’s Toast Sandwich
Toast a thin slice of bread.
Butter two slices of bread and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the slice of toast between the 2 slices of bread-and-butter to form a sandwich.
Nutrition: 3 slices of white bread = 240 Calories. Butter = 10 g = 90 Calories
Total = 330 Calories
Toast sandwich nutrients
Protein = 9.5 g
Fat = 12 g
Carbohydrate = 55 g
Fibre = 4.5 grams
Calcium = 120 mg
Iron = 2 mg
Vitamin A = 90 mcg
Vitamin B1 = 0.25 mg
Vitamin B2 = 80 mcg
Vitamin B3 = 4 mg
Vitamin D = 0.08 mcg
I love how our friends from across the pond “Chow” have gleefully leapt upon this story to come up with their own list of 5 “Meals” even cheaper than the Toast Sandwich - including Cheerios on a Half Bagel and Dandelion Salad with Rainwater “Vinaigrette” Pick some wet dandelion leaves. Tah-dah!
We would love to have your thoughts. Particularly on the many, many other somewhat healthier austerity recipes they could have used to prove the same point. Do you think it’s irresponsible to tout the “nutritional” values of eating three slices of cheap white bread with butter just because you want a bit of PR? We’ll be discussing this over on Great British Chefs’ Facebook Page.