The Joy of Room Service

Club Sandwich

On Sunday night, wanting to put the finishing touches on my talk, I decide to stay in and have dinner in my room, a small room with a view out onto the harbour, in the four-star Cannes hotel where the Gourmet Voice festival is taking place.

I order a club sandwich of course, not hesitating for one second : the first room service of my life, it has to be the epitomical sandwich, no? Besides, club sandwiches are one of the better inventions of mankind, and an opportunity to eat one should never be passed up.

The club sandwich arrives moments later, wheeled in on a tablecloth-clad table by a red-suit-wearing, white-haired, phonebook-serious majordomo. He maneuvers the table up between the bed and the television, and expertly hooks the collapsible sides back up so the table is, once again, nice and round, adorned as it is with a pink rose in a little vase and a brand new ketchup glass bottle.

The good thing about a club sandwich — besides the bacon and the mayonnaise and the fact that the crusts have been removed for you just like when you were little — is that it is cold, so it can wait patiently until you’re ready to eat it, when the work is done. (Well, maybe the vinaigrette will have slightly cooked the salad, but you cannot let your work be derailed by this kind of thought.)

Of course, this particular club sandwich had a tad more mayonnaise than I like and I must protest vigorously against the inclusion of sliced hard-boiled egg, but that’s not the point. The point is to sit cross-legged on the edge of the bed, barefoot and wrapped in the extra-large extra-plush embroidered bathrobe (or even wrapped in two extra-large extra-plush embroidered bathrobes, if such had been my fancy, for the hotel room was thus equipped). Pouring a big blob of ketchup from the bottle onto the side of the plate. Picking up one of the four club triangles and removing the large toothpick holding it together (for piercing the roof of your mouth with a huge shard may put a damper on the experience). Dipping one end of the triangle in the ketchup, and biting into it with varying degrees of rapaciousness.

The salad can be ignored if one wishes, it’s not going to cancel out the bacon and mayo anyway, and it requires the use of silverware, which is against the whole philosophy. The TV can also be turned on randomly, or a magazine, bought at the airport but not yet broken into, can be leafed through.

The triangles will deconstruct themselves as you eat, the middle layers being pushed outwards by the pressure of your teeth, ketchup and mayonnaise smearing your fingers, and, quite possibly, the tip of your nose. But that’s what the napkin is for, and that’s why, as you come to understand, le club sandwich is so well suited to the delightful privacy of room service, for one.

  • Maman

    Ca, c’est la vie de château ! Mais du ketchup sur un club sandwich, n’est-ce pas un crime ?

  • ah! the classic club sandwich. while the sandwich may have been invented by an englishman, the club sandwich seems to have spontaneously manifested around the turn of the last century in america. it’s origin is credited to everywhere from posh men’s clubs, fashionable new york hotels and after theatre eateries to dining cars of trains. a marvel of sandwich engineering. always the best bet on any roomservice menu and the prefect introduction to the ups and downs of the in-room dining experience. i consider this sandwich a ray of hope wherever i encounter it. yes, i take my club sandwiches quite seriously. allow me to share with you my closely guarded secret about assuring the optimal club sandwich experience. order the mayo on the side and if they have it, ask for a couple of slices of, dare i say it, avocado. you will be glad you did.

  • Erin

    I must say that I agree with monkey about the avocado. They are one of my favorite additions.

  • Carrie

    Egads, ketchup on a club sandwich? Your mom’s right!

  • Joan

    ah..tradition and food! checking club stories on the net..seems the club was the favourite of former King Edward VII and his wife, Wallis Simpson. Can’t you just imagine her, in Mainbocher!, preparing the classic for her king.

    Must say Clotilde, never has a club sandwich looked as pretty as your photo..I’m imagining how van Gogh would have depicted it ~ all those luscious brush strokes.

    a memorable quote from the joyous journey?

  • I agree with Maman about the ketchup (heresy!), and others about the avocado. Otherwise that is one fine lookin’ sandwich!

    A local cafe has what it calls the California Club: Turkey, bacon, tomato, and avocado (or guacamole) on toasted sliced sourdough. Yum.

  • I don’t know, I can’t remember ever having a club sandwich *not* served and enjoyed with ketchup : it certainly adds to my inner kid’s pleasure, and anything bacon calls for ketchup in my book! I also have a personal fondness for ketchup, which thus benefits from a complete and absolute immunity to any accusation of heresy… To each his own club sandwich, no?

  • i am quite disturbed over the ketchup controversy. i think we must look deeper into the club sandwich’s presentation to find the truth. the delectable sandwich was served with salad and not the traditional accompaniment of frites (aka french fries). that is where the true problem lies. a large luxurious pool of ketchup would be the natural accompaniment to the fries. it would not be unusual for a corner of the yummy club sandwich to “accidentally” come in contact with the ketchup and who would dare hesitate to nibble that ketchup drenched delight? i know i wouldn’t hesitate for a moment. but, would i be so determined as to intentionally dip? i don’t know. yet, some find fault in the fact that clotilde boldly and with great joy knowingly dipped the tantalizing triangles of her classic club in ketchup. i say, dip away my friend! dip away! it is such bold unapologetic dipping that brought civilization out of the stone age and into the golden age of the sandwich that we know today.

  • Cecil

    Beware of the club sandwich if you are in Madrid. A recent visit found me at the hotel bar, ordering a club sandwich. Similar to what was expected only in the double decker toast construction and the presence of mayo and lettuce. The ‘bottom’ layer of this contained the lettuce, plenty of mayo and … tuna! (and not albacore either). The ‘top’ layer started out with a slice of ham, then cheese then …. a fried egg! The top peice of toast had a circle cut into it to accomodate the yoke.
    The locals seemed to enjoy. I make no judgement.

  • Chocklit

    Never mind the ketchup and the avocado. Were there fries? Crisp, fat sticks of potato, golden brown on the outside, steamy and soft on the inside? Over here we call them French fries. As far as I am concerned, a club sandwich (or any other sandwich or burger) is just a foil for perfect fries. The best ones are hand-cut and leave your fingers coated with grease.

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