My lovely friends took pity on my solo state today and took me along with them on their Monday walk out on the edge of the Yarra Valley, which, of course, because they are very hospitable, was followed by lunch at their place. A quick visit to Coles to pick up some bread and lettuce, a raid of the fridge and hey presto the perfect lunch. This wasn't it - this is one we shared with them last year, but it was very similar.
It's so easy to do isn't it? You just buy some nice bread, and visit your local supermarket deli section for the meats, fish and cheese, some greens, some tomatoes of some kind, maybe cucumber or celery, mix with some chutneys, or olives, or fruit or nuts that you might have and you have a lunch fit for a king.
But then when I got home and rang my bored hospitalised husband he talked of the woes of his Ploughman's lunch. I can't quite remember the details now, but it sounded more like an open sandwich to me - a very ordinary slice of bread topped with damp lettuce tomato and some actually nice sliced real ham. But the overall effect was soggy he said. He was not impressed, and it left me wondering why such places cannot do something so simple as what, I suppose could be called a Ploughman's lunch.
How hard can it be might also be applied to my search for a disastrous Ploughman's lunch picture. This is the best I could come up with, but, awful as it is, it doesn't match David's description. I did find a picture of what somebody described as a 'disgusting Ploughman's lunch' they had eaten in a pub somewhere but it didn't really look disgusting. A bit sparse perhaps but not disgusting. Here it is below:
Maybe the 'disgusting' bit was something to do with the price. Because it is sparse. The bread looks nice though, and I assume that's a big chunk of cheese in the middle.
Anyway - to continue on the how hard can it be thing - I also had an email from my sister who had gone out for a celebratory lunch with husband to a local pub and had what she described as an awful meal - and I quote:
"I had mushrooms on ciabatta to start with, the sauce was very runny and the ciabatta was soggy, few onions thrown in, I could have cooked it a lot better, Philip had prawns that I also could have done a lot better. For a main I had beer battered fish and chips, the fish was ok but the chips, lovely cut thick ones, were not cooked enough! Philip had a steak and ale pie which was very overcooked and dry and apparently not very warm."
Really there is no excuse for this is there? Nor is there one for the hospital either - it's a private hospital not a public one so surely not quite the same budget restrictions. With respect to my sister's pub one assumes they have professionals in the kitchen? Maybe not in times of COVID, but surely even an amateur can make sure a pie is warm and the chips are cooked. As for the hospital - well I guess they have the limitation of the size of the tray or the plate - but even with one plate it would be possible to make something nice from basic stuff. As I said to David - don't they read the supermarket magazines, which in virtually every edition, have some kind of platter somewhere - mostly advertising their own products.
In times gone by it would have been difficult. Much less choice - but there has always been cheese, there has always been some kind of cold meat - even a cold sausage from the night before, sliced nicely looks good. Even during post-war rationing these things were available. And there have always been pickles and chutney and tomatoes and lettuce and cucumber.
How hard can it be?