At last, today is polling day for the general election after weeks of endless campaigning by competing political parties and I, for one, am glad to finally cast my vote. Like most people I have had enough of being inundated with copious letters and political flyers in every colour highlighting why I should vote for them while rubbishing the competition. I have also run out of patience with uninvited visits from friendly local councillors in the middle of preparing dinner. It is widely accepted that there still are a considerable number of people who are undecided who to vote for and they have not been influenced by each party’s position on important issues such as the NHS, jobs, education, and of course, immigration. Therefore, some of the media have had to go out of their way to find new angles with which to sway voters and I have to say that I was most impressed by Bacon Sandwichgate. Yes, we have been reduced to judging the competency of a future Prime Minister by the way in which they eat.
It is hard to believe that this all started in May 2014—a year ago—when Ed Miliband was photographed eating a bacon sarnie for breakfast whilst out campaigning and the media claimed that he ‘looked weird’. Much attention was given to this in newspapers and daytime telly and the eating of the bacon sandwich was variously interpreted by experts on the subject. The bacon sandwich continued to follow Miliband around like a porky shadow and was referred to by reporters at every opportunity. Going with the premise of all publicity being good publicity, in October 2014, Nigel Farage bravely took on Miliband and ate a bacon sandwich in public. Although Farage scored himself a 6.6/10 on sandwich-eating performance it was widely reported that he ‘did not look any less weird’.
Ever since, Miliband has been haunted by the bacon sandwich and the recent election campaign has given the other parties more opportunities to reignite interest. Most parties have safeguarded against ‘weirdness’ by adopting a policy of not eating in public. However, the Tories accepted the challenge and raised the stakes by painstakingly choreographing their own public eating performances. By ensuring that a fork and knife is always on standby for David Cameron, he narrowly dodged the bullet when confronted with a hotdog at a BBQ, avoiding another Sandwichgate and possibly gaining in the polls. He may have looked like a total prat but at least he didn’t look ‘weird’.
But recently, a backlash has begun and the messy sandwich-eating public have stood up together in solidarity. Bacon Sandwichgate has now gone way beyond politics and people are questioning if we need to ratify the fundamental right to eat a sandwich in peace without being mocked. Of course, you cannot start a revolution these days without Twitter and selfies of sandwich-eating mishaps. So undignified attempts to tackle food have quickly been hashtagged #JeSuisEd. After spying my reflection in a café mirror, I have to admit that my own performance in sandwich-eating is also ‘weird’. However, I have not contributed to #JeSuisEd as my hands are normally too messy to use a camera when I am eating. As I have to bear some responsibility for passing this on to my children, I can only hope that after the election, things will change. Maybe one day my children will grow up in a truly free society, where they can hold their heads high and tuck into a filled bap with impunity. And whatever your political persuasion, you have to vote for that.
Now for a vote-related recipe far from Westminster…this recipe for Grilled asparagus with rosemary and maple has just been elected as one of the featured asparagus recipes in the Reader’s recipe swap in the Cook section of the Guardian newspaper. It should be in Saturday edition on 9 May but here is a sneaky peek at the recipe.