There are two main independent sandwich shops on Whitcomb Street, situated opposite the Trafalgar Square Thistle Hotel. Although they meet the food requirements of hotel residents unwilling to pay the extortionate food prices charged by their otherwise agreeable hotel, the majority of their trade comes from the wage slaves in my office.
People are very loyal to their sandwich shop of choice, and I’ve witnessed and contributed to many a heated discussion upon the relative merits of each. Orsini’s is vaguely Italian, and Ciabatta-related produce features heavily on their menu. Sandwich Express, my preferred vendor, is run by three Portugese brothers. Objectively, they offer a wider variety of pre-prepared deli fillings, but at a higher price. Subjectively, their bread and muffins are of a higher quality and their baked potatoes are fluffier. Detractors cite antipathy towards the proprieters, although I choose to find the unreconstructed Madeiran mannerisms charming.
Today, Nik expressed a desire for a breakfast item only served by Orsinis. However, he was reluctant to go as he hadn’t been to Orsini’s for awhile, and felt anxious at the prospect of facing down suspicion that he’d switched allegiance to Sandwich Express.
It got me wondering how much bad feeling there is between the two sandwich shop owners. They are, after all, in direct competition for the same custom day in, day out. They must receive their deliveries, open up and close at similar times. Do they give each other threatening looks whilst signing for 50 sliced loaves and a bag of baguettes?
What would happen if Nik had walked in there clutching a paper bag adorning a Sandwich Express logo? I’d like to think that the moody man in Orsini’s would have a total breakdown. Bursting with uncontainable rage and shaking like a shitting dog, he jumps over the counter, yelling ‘Those Madeiran bastards have bust my chops for the last time’. He storms into Sandwich Express, mad-eyed and swishing a bread knife in front of him. His Mama is standing behind him wielding a meat cleaver with thoughts of slicing more than salami.
Chaos ensues. The next thing I see is the man from Orsini getting his face steamed off by accurate deployment of the milk steamer on the espresso machine. Mama’s getting her head slammed repeatedly in the baked potato oven, conveniently located at head height. Avocados are getting thrown like fruity grenades, hands are being trapped in Foreman Grills and boiled egg slicers are being employed creatively on ears. Nik, pale faced and horrified at his role in this violent scene is mouthing the words ‘I only came in for a Tuna Melt.’
I extract myself from the bloodbath, clutching my cream cheese bagel and retreat to a safe distance.