Think bush walk, ants, snakes then think safe clean beach, think young dog, small children, great expanses of white sand only accessed through stairs…lots and lots of steep winding stairs up a cliff.
Who wants to tote a bloody huge wicker basket a la Wind in the Willows? Old Ratty and Moley tottering down a cliff clutching a basketful of mean cucumber sandwiches and lashings of ginger beer?
NO. I said NO!
When I was a kid this same beach, The Step Beach at Airey’s Inlet was ours and exclusively ours. No-one else came there much back in nineteen hundred and frozen to death. It was our joy our territory our freedom and if someone did venture down those terrifyingly treacherous steps unfit for 5 y.o. legs or 60 y.o. legs they’d be met by a bunch of rowdy tousled kids clutching smelly sardine sandwiches gone crisp at the crust with oil and the day’s heat. They stank but attracted cats and other assorted wildlife or there might be Peck’s Anchovy Paste or Camp Pie or best, Steak and Onion from the tin sitting dark and fat between slices of Tip Top white bread.
On a good holiday mum might make egg and lettuce and she’d mash the egg with lots of salty butter and pepper. So yum.
The wildlife to be terrified of were bull ants. HUGE red and black bastards they’d drag you away in your sleeping bag Gulliver like and certainly chomp into your sandwich with whatever filling it had without hesitation. They were everywhere back then but I didn’t notice a single one last Sunday when we all trooped off in a convoy to The Step Beach for a picnic and a swim. I also didn’t notice the sand dune we’d whoop holler and somersault down, all eroded to rock now and likewise the flowing creek had dried up, the rock pools were virtually devoid of life but somehow it didn’t matter. We were there on a glorious day laughing and having a swim in that cold effervescent water. Then there were our sandwiches, lots of them.
The best one is the unparalleled Super Salad Sandwich; the SSS.
Here it is:
FRESH white bread or wholemeal if you must but nothing grainy or fancy pants artis-anal.
Last Tango in Paris style, spread liberally spread with butter. If you do margarine then best to eat a pie and sauce or watch another film, even Iron Chef.
So I digress.
One buttered side also gets Masterfoods Hot English Mustard and the other piece a blob of homemade harissa Mayonnaise (recipe later). The quality of the mayo is critical for if it is a cheapie it will ruin your sandwich so go for Best Foods or Thomy or make your own, lazy bugger, it is EASY.
Now pay attention class as we go on, otherwise it won’t work and will go soggy or fall to bits.
On the mustard side put ham, a nice smokey one. On top of that put the thinly sliced tomato pepper and salt, surprisingly more than you would normally.
Then place very thinly sliced cucumber, grated carrot here and if you like raw onion which is terribly bossy it should go here too, then Edgell tinned beetroot which I prefer since it is not too sweet and not too vinegary.
Then comes the cheese and here is an important point, don’t go fancy here, if you do anything like camembert, washed rind or God forbid, d’Affinois it will totally ruin the sandwich and certainly don’t use a sharp cheddar, it should be cheapo sliced cheese in plastic wrap. This is because of its tendency to soften and acts as a meshing of flavours and as a kind of glue.
You end with a crisp iceberg lettuce which is lying against the mayo like a crisp green blanket tucking all the children into bed.
You will also have to be firm with it compressing it down with your whole hand as you cut with a sharp bread knife.
Wrap it in plastic wrap really tightly and enjoy it wherever you are but best avoid the wildlife…to be continued
‘Wherein Chris causes a domino effect fall off the cliff after putting his hand on a bull ants nest’.