Dave: In preparation for National Sandwich Day on 3 November, and as promised in our VIDA Insight no. 23 – Food (http://vidatraining.weebly.com/blog/23-foodbritishfoodfortnight), I thought that I would take the opportunity to write about sandwiches but in the greater context of the very British ‘buffet’.
We all love a buffet don’t we? A lovely spread of quiche, sausage rolls, chicken drumsticks, cheese and pineapple, vol-au-vents (showing my age now) and the platters of bridge rolls and sandwiches.
Even when I could see, there was something about trying to establish the fillings of the sandwiches… I think that one’s egg mayonnaise… and those look like some kind of chicken; maybe coronation or tikka… and then you would hear “Oh no… I don’t think that’s vegetarian… you try it!” And what is it with having several platters of sandwiches with the same mixed fillings on them… surely it would make more sense to have a platter of each filling??
The thing I love about a buffet though, is the fact that you can go back as many times as you like. I particularly enjoy this when there are a variety of desserts on offer (I’m well known for liking my puddings) but this blog is supposed to be about sandwiches.
Since not being able to see what’s on offer, and yes, probably not much of a disadvantage to someone that can see, approaching a buffet table is a real no-go; often referred to as a blind person’s nightmare. Imagine having a table of food in front of you and you having to find a selection with your eyes closed… and then having to carry this pile of food, often balancing on the thinnest paper plate imaginable, back to your seat. You can now probably appreciate why it is so much nicer to have a waiter/waitress bring your plate of food to you at the table. However, the real bonus to this style of eating is that it’s called ‘finger food’ and you can get away with using your fingers to eat it… perfect for the vision impaired!
I always now rely on someone’s support to help me with this task. I like to go up to the table and find out what’s on offer and be able to say “yes” or /”no” whilst going around. I’m still amazed though at how few buffets have labels to aid with the identification; especially now the sandwich selections are more than cheese and pickle, egg and cress or ham and tomato.
So, thinking about sandwiches and fillings, what are your favourites? I think my preference would be something along the lines of chicken and bacon mayonnaise, chicken tikka or a classic BLT. I also like a chip butty and a fish finger sandwich. However, and my in-laws still can’t get over this, I have been known to eat (and enjoy) a cold mashed potato with salad cream sandwich or a cold cottage pie sandwich. We also, as kids, used to have crisp sandwiches (any flavour works)… just delicious!
Vicky: Oh Dave and you sounded so posh when you mentioned ‘bridge rolls’!! Ok so I’m one of the vegetarians Dave mentions who can be heard saying, ‘Hmmm not sure about this, can you try it first and let me know’ – well that’s when I’m on my best behaviour, with my husband I’m usually heard to say ‘Oh no, I shouldn’t have started that, the rest is yours!!’, so yes in some ways a buffet is a nightmare for me too.
However, like Dave, I enjoy the prospect of trying different things from a buffet and for me, the visual array of a buffet is appealing, so even though I appreciate Dave’s rationale for putting all the same sandwiches on one tray, as a sighted person I think that would look boring. However, I do agree separate trays of vegetarian, meat and fish sandwiches would be much nicer and, a plea to anyone presenting a buffet, also labelled!
The sense of relief I experience when buffet food is labelled is two-fold. Whilst I appreciate labelling doesn’t help everyone, not only does it make it easier when you’re vegetarian or have other dietary requirements, it is also a massive help when you are assisting someone else to choose from a buffet. Being faced with an array of sandwiches (and now more often wraps, samosas and spring rolls that you can’t even see into) and trying to give the person you’re with a good idea of what their choices are can be a daunting task, especially if there’s a queue of hungry people behind you. The number of times I’ve had to say to people ‘Oh, hang on, not too sure, might be chicken, then again it could be cheese!’ or even ‘Ok, it’s a samosa but no idea what’s in it. If it’s vegetarian can you let me know’.
I did have to laugh when I turned up at a friend’s party, went to say hello to the hosts who both have vision impairments and who happened to be at the buffet table, to be greeted by ‘Oh good, someone with sight, what’s on this table!’. Mind you, this didn’t make me laugh as much as the time my husband and I went to a party only to find out that the buffet was vegan – great for me as I could eat everything with no concerns but my husband (an avid meat eater) was a little disappointed to say the least (it was over 20 years ago and still comes up regularly!!)
As to my favourite sandwich – since going vegetarian that’s a bit more tricky and sandwiches at buffets can be a bit disappointing (although I do like egg mayonnaise or cheese and coleslaw, it’s annoying if there’s a huge array of food and that’s your only option). I like to taste some different things so maybe roasted veg and hummus, or falafel (easier in a wrap, I’ll agree) – but in general I’ll try anything that’s vegetarian and a bit different.
We’re always interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts (or favourite sandwiches). Please share these by commenting…
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Our VIDA Insights...
Following our experiences from delivering our Vision Impairment Awareness training days over the past couple of years, we know that there’s loads more that we could talk about and examples we could have shared. Whilst these won’t be a substitute for our training, they will give you an insight (hence the name!) into our thoughts, observations and experiences from each of our perspectives - Dave’s living with sight loss and Vicky’s from being a sighted person and working alongside and supporting people who have sight loss.