Monday, 16 November 2015

Best Christmas sandwiches 2015: Pret, Boots, Eat, Greggs and M&S face off in the ultimate festive fight

Much debate surrounds the origins of the Christmas Sandwich. Some claim it was invented in 1843 by a hungover Charles Dickens, while many historians argue that it dates back to the early days of the Mayan civilisation where, on the winter solstice, live turkeys would be covered in berries and flour before being ritualistically sliced and eaten.
Wherever they come from, Christmas sandwiches are now Big Business, with reports this year of turkey-based treats flying off supermarket shelves as far back as when England were still in the Rugby World Cup.
Join me as I delve into the turkey underworld to uncover which of these festive belly fillers are Fairytale of New York, and which ones are [insert X Factor winner's single here].
Pret Christmas Lunch - Lacking that signature Pret crunch (despite the promise of "crispy onion") and zesty taste upon the first bite, things get off to a worrying start for the King of Christmas Sandwiches. Further bites through the abundant, rubbery spinach are a struggle before it becomes clear that the usually dependable turkey and crumbly stuffing aren't going to save the day. A massive disappointment and Pret's crown is there for the taking.
Boots Turkey, bacon, stuffing and cranberry - There must have been a shakeup down at Boots HQ as this is a vast improvement on last year's disaster. The clearly defined and well-balanced flavoursome fillings see it go down more easily than Diego Costa in an earthquake. Touché, Boots.
Eat Festive Fullworks - With its big, fresh turkey slabs glistening in a zingy cranberry coat, this is definitely the most effortlessly handsome sandwich of the bunch, like a jacked Cate Blanchett. The Festive Fullworks strikes the fine balance of being satisfyingly meaty yet being easy on the old chops, a delight from start to finish.
Greggs Christmas Sandwich - It may lack the pizzazz of its rivals but this principled effort stuffed with generous hunks of turkey and beautifully judged servings of stuffing and cranberry is an all-round winner. The Corbyn of Christmas sandwiches.
WHSmith turkey feast - Looking quite sorry for itself like one of their town centre branches, this is a surprisingly inoffensive effort from Smiths with enough flavour to see it through to the final whistle. However, it is so unsubstantial it is forgotten as quickly as a tory pre-election promise.
M&S Turkey Feast – With all the delicious permutations of a Christmas sandwich out there it can be easy to forget that the turkey should always be the main event. Which is precisely what M&S have done here, as a powerfully fragrant sage and onion stuffing completely overpowers the turkey like Bane beating the shit out of a demoralised Batman. Stuffing is great but who in their right mind would want a whole sandwich of the, um, stuff?
M&S Turkey and pigs in blankets - Note to M&S: a small sausage resting next to a bit of bacon does not a pig in blanket make. Or did a certain Prime Minister visit these little piggies in the night? Whatever happened, this is just a sausage sandwich masquerading as a Christmas sandwich. A disgrace to the genre.
Sainsburys Turkey Feast - A pleasing initial hit of fragrant chestnut and thyme stuffing segues into a tasteless mulch of a sandwich that would cause severe delays if discarded onto a railway track. A chronic lack of turkey and cranberry too, Dickens would be rolling in his grave.
Tesco Finest Turkey Feast - Despite a pleasingly sweet centre, this is a thick gargoyle of a sandwich that is practically uneatable unless perhaps you're a shark. If you've ever wondered what it'd feel like to chew Channing Tatum to death then this is the sandwich for you.
Waitrose Turkey, stuffing and bacon – With its fistful of spinach Waitrose have clearly taken several leaves out of Pret’s book this year. But like Pret, this is a big letdown with its stingy amount of turkey and an afterthought of bacon. Don’t be fooled by the high production values.