Dinner With The Omnivore

In praise of the seasonnaire sandwich

Posted on: June 27, 2010

This month's pay packet. Best hope you're not allergic.

One of the excuses given by ski tour operators for paying their staff a monthly sum which wouldn’t motivate a ten-year-old to get out of bed in the morning is that they also provide bed and board. In order to satisfy local regulations regarding the legal definition of people-trafficking, they quote an almost reasonable looking wage but then promptly smack you for an eye-watering amount of something they like to call ‘provision of services’ or other such HR marketing waffle, thereby bringing your income down to the £180 a month they intended to pay you in the first place.

I’m not about to go into the Rackmanesque economics of stuffing six people into a damp basement room with no window and charging each of them an amount which could cover the rent on quite a decent studio apartment. Or not today, at any rate.

The ‘board’ part of the deal is variable. Staff in chalets – with easy access to cake, fancy starters, meat bought from a butcher and (most importantly) their own budgets – can even fare quite well. Hotel teams, on the other hand, get what they’re given and are supposed to think themselves lucky.

Sausages. Hold the blue plastic.

Bangers and mash looked like a good hearty option after a day’s skiing and before the evening shift, until someone spotted the chef mixing powdered potato up with water. And the sausages, which looked slightly alarming in the first place, became positively terrifying when we cut one in half and found a lump of blue plastic in it. Add to that the bits of metal chain in the cheap ‘fish’ fingers and you can see why people might be forgiven for requesting emergency food parcels from home.

And it didn’t stop there. Frozen cordon bleus and chicken nuggets, both of them made of the same nameless spongy substance but each laced with a slightly different cocktail of chemicals. Five different kinds of frozen deep-fried potato-related products designed to fool the consumer that he wasn’t just getting chips yet again, honest. And rarely a vegetable to be seen unless it was a bit of limp lettuce leaf or a bit of previously frozen green sponge. (Actually I think that might have been broccoli, though it’s hard to tell.)

In fact, the lunchtime sandwich was the culinary high point of the day, although chefs did occasionally try to ambush the unsuspecting by experimenting unneccessarily with fillings. Bolognese sandwich was memorable, and the chicken nugget with pesto mayonnaise was frankly traumatising.

But the classic seasonnaire sandwich contains:

Mayonnaise: usually out of a cheapo five-litre catering bucket of the stuff, but you can’t have everything, and the buckets come in handy later on.

Sliced ham: and by this I mean ham and not epaule. Known to staff as ‘scary ham’ this stuff consists of unmentionable offcuts of pig stirred up with a load of fat and salt and then squashed until it all sticks together in a square shape. I once worked for a tour op whose policy it was to buy it for school groups – don’t you love the British attitude that it’s fine to feed your kids stuff you wouldn’t give the dog?

Sliced Edam: usually left over from breakfast, and therefore a tad curly at the edges. And why is it always rectangular when we all know Edam comes in a ball? Best not to dwell on that one, I imagine.

Salad: ie more of the above mentioned limp lettuce. Come on, it’s hard enough to persuade the chefs to put even that amount of effort into a staff sanger. You can’t expect cucumber and tomato as well.

Is that a sandwich in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?

Serving suggestions usually involve clingfilm, followed by stuffing the sandwich into a pocket slightly too small for it, falling on it at least twice while doing something ‘gnarly’, partially freezing it and then showing off by eating it two-handed on a draglift while riding a snowboard.

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5 Responses to "In praise of the seasonnaire sandwich"

Cor blimey, we;ve never had a chalet boy like that one 🙂

You investigated? Hussy.

[…] The seasonnaire sandwich: probably the most popular munch out there, mainly because it’s free and you just nab one from the kitchen before you leave (free is a big plus for the seasonnaire). Resistant and filling, but doesn’t score too well on the size criterion in my opinion, unless you’re rocking one of those tent arrangements favoured by the park rats. […]

[…] Hotel staff are at the bottom of the resort employment pile – paid less than anyone else, without access to much in the way of tips, housed six deep in grungy hotel basements and fed whatever the assistant chef can be bothered to fish out of the freezer. Usually with chips. The only reason they don’t go home with scurvy is the limp lettuce in the lunchtime sandwich. […]

[…] summer challenge then was to find appealing lunches which aren’t the seasonnaire sandwich, one of my favourite midday options, but a tad on the calorific side for someone aiming to become […]

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Food for thought

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles

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© Christa GIMBLETT 2010-2011
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