Monday, October 03, 2011

Hungry? Can it!

I don't want to alarm anyone, but I think the end is nigh.

I know those crazy old men with hand written signs have been predicting it for ages, but now I really think they may be right – for I have seen the end of days, and yea, it is a sandwich in a can.

That's one of the signs of the Apocalypse, right? Plagues and pestilence, four horsemen, and a sandwich in a can?

There I was, minding my own business, when the "Canned-wich" (you have to admit it's got a catchy name) popped up on television - a fluffy white bun spread with jam and peanut butter, wrapped in plastic and shoved into a can. It keeps for years. Apparently they're going to sell it in vending machines.

If your reaction to this news is "When?" then you should probably stop reading right about now.

If however your reaction to this is similar to mine - ie: screaming a la Janet Leigh in Psycho and shouting "WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?" - then you'll agree urgent action is required.

Frankly, we should have seen this coming.

We Australians love to think of ourselves as foodies – we pride ourselves on our fresh produce and farmers markets, and continually pat ourselves on the back for our world famous seafood and meat. And then we let a canned sandwich into the country. (I mean really – with all this fuss about boat people, you'd think they could handle a bloody sandwich. Border security's got a lot to answer for.)

I'm not saying we shouldn't be proud of the excellent food we do in this country, but let's not kid ourselves – we're far from “fresh food people”.

Travel to France or Italy, Thailand, Vietnam or Malaysia and you'll understand what fresh food is. The French would rather guillotine themselves than eat canned bread – they buy a fresh loaf from the bakery every morning. We Aussies buy a block of squishy factory made stodge each week and bung it in the freezer for toast.

Italians wouldn't dream of keeping plasticky, pre-sliced cheese in their fridge – why would they when practically every street corner has a fully-stocked deli on it, filled with fresh hand-made cheeses, cured meats and pasta?

Feel peckish walking down a street in Adelaide and you'd be lucky to find a coffee shop to buy a sandwich in (canned or otherwise) – and even then, only if it's lunch time. Try that in almost any Asian country and you'll be spoiled for choice at any time of the day with vendors cooking satays to order, or whipping up bowls of noodle soup with fresh herbs, or filling crusty bread rolls with salad, chicken and herbs for the perfect hunger fix.

Let's face it, for all the fuss and bluster about Australia's love affair with cooking, food and all things MasterChef, that show was still being propped up by ads for things like “chicken in a can” and the frozen chicken parmy meal in a box (just like a pub meal – but sadder, and lonelier).

Apart from being fairly revolting concepts, aren't these products just redundant? Why buy a frozen schnitzel when all you need is meat, egg and breadcrumbs to make a fresh one? Why buy canned chicken when you can buy an ACTUAL roast chicken and cut it up?

If that's not bad enough, I saw a self-heating can of hot chocolate at my local supermarket this week. Pull a tab, give it a shake, wait three minutes and presto – piping hot beverage. Why is this product necessary? The only situation I can think of in which it might be useful is if James Bond had to defuse a milk-soluble nuclear bomb and only had two minutes and 58 seconds to do it.

Actually, there is one other situation in which all of these products become useful – the Apocalypse. Better stock up your bunkers, I hear it's heading our way.

This article was first published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's Sunday liftout on August 15, 2010.


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