Saturday, April 30, 2011


Subway - 29th April, 2011

Mele, Sam, Trent, Em

- I think the stripper getting a pre-dance tuna melt summed it up best: ‘Are you going to eat that?’

I had made it through the first and second courses and was working on dessert, while getting another sandwich to take away for our kind chauffeur. I put the half-eaten raspberry cheesecake
cookie on the counter to get my wallet out. The upside to Subway is that you can front up with nothing more than a twenty and leave with a full stomach, but you do end up with a lot of spare change and I needed two hands.
My first reaction was instinctively protective. This was a lady who looked as though she just might grab half a cookie at the first sign of ambivalence.
‘I sure am,’ I answered confidently, ready to shield it like a non-answer-sharing nerd.


‘You know people put their hands on this counter?’
‘I just went to the toilet, and didn’t wash my hands! Raaarrgh!’ went the stripper, shaking her hair extensions at me. ‘Just kidding.’
‘Oh good,’ I said, paying for my take away and returning to our primo table.
‘He’s actually going to eat it!’ cried the stripper to her stripper friend. I’ve never been watched so intently while eating. I ate the cookie.
‘Aaww!’ they both cried. ‘He ate it!’
They laughed, pointed and left.

This can probably encompass the complete experience of eating at the Gouger Street branch of Subway: were we really really going to eat that?
Yes. Yes, we were.
‘What’s the weirdest thing on the menu?’ asked Mele, executing our casual sting of the Sandwich Artiste on duty with classic elegance. I will leave it to Mele to talk you through the visceral, emotional, physical experience of eating the food. Suffice it to say that, after questioning us (‘Are you doing this for a bet or something?’) and having the Gouger Street Epic(cure) explained to him, our Artiste took on board the concept of necessary weirdness in our menu choices and offered this little tip: leaning in close as he handed me my change (which I would later use on cookies) he said sotto voce ‘You know, it’s the Asians who have the really weird sandwiches.’
‘Ah.’ I nodded encouragingly.
‘Yes. This salad with that, all sorts of stuff!’
The sharp-minded among you may have already deduced that, since he was telling me this while I was paying, we may not have actually received the most unusual menu item or combination of items available that evening.
What we were handed was a protein-packed combo dreamt up by some free-thinking gourmand and assembled by Dr Moreau – the Meatball Seafood Sensation Deluxe. With Bacon. The first thing that struck me about the Seafood Sensation (an independent menu item, complete with salad and an Artiste-recommend mayonnaise) was the fact that ‘Sensation’ is less often a happy superlative than a worrisome pejorative. For every time it is prefaced by ‘Dancing’, ‘Singing’ or even ‘Banjo Playing’ there is the other kind of sensation. Three examples which spring readily to mind are ‘sinking’, ‘gurgling’ and ‘burning’. These are not the sensations which sell sandwiches. These are the sensations which sell pharmaceuticals. Opening the wrapper on our Meatball Seafood Sensation Deluxe (With Bacon) I definitely experienced more of the latter kinds of sensations, rather than the former. It looked like a shotgun wound to the butt hole. With Bacon.


At this point, you're probably picturing Barnacle Bill-style crumbed butterfish or even the odd bit of prawn cocktail. Nuh-uh. The Looming Seafood Sensation of Dread was made entirely of seafood extender. This is a mock-fish substance composed of chicken offcuts, rodents which are no longer classed as vermin and some kelp (which is technically seafood). The meatballs are indeed that: balls of meat, slathered in a thick, read sauce and composed of the same ingredients as the seafood extender, but in different ratios. The Bacon? Well, they can’t mess around with that too much, can they? Nope, the Bacon was good old, vat-grown, sterilised, homogenised, freeze-dried, re-constituted Bacon-brand meat with Bacon flavouring. I hear it’s the first mass-produced vegan bacon on the market. This was a sandwich for the ages, it’s Surf’n’Turf’n’Laboratory and it is definitely edible.

As long as you clamp your lips shut.


When people ask me ‘where were you when William married Kate?', I will, without hesitation, declare that I was in a Subway with some random degenerates calling for a republic.

Subway customer holds ciggie for his son.

The monarchy is all well and good for those who are born into it. Those of us languishing in the backwater colony of Australia must celebrate our criminality, drink beer and eat at Subway, a franchise I’m sure no royal has ever set foot in.

They shall never take ... our cookies!

Subway is a mystery to me. The bread isn’t quite real: it smells bad, it’s pumped out of a tube and when heated, the chemical sludge converts to something like a rehydrated biscuit (like spacefood for astronauts, or an army ration perhaps). The fillings are benign (lettuce, beetroot) or weirdly American and out of context (some jalapeno pickle thing, tuna melt mix, meatball).Where are the sundried tomatoes, fetta cheese, artichokes, and tomato chutney?

Where was anything?

The Earl of Sandwich would not approve of Subway’s ‘sandwich artist’ claims, but to be fair, the kids working there were very nice. They were polite, cleaned constantly, engaged us in conversation, gave us informed food choices and manned the front with neither a manager nor an adult in sight. I’d hire them in a minute. The best service on Gouger Street I’ve ever had.

They were also kids who had been drum
med with Australia’s food hygiene standards, something possibly at conflict with the ‘Subway Seafood Sensation’ crossed with meatball and bacon. In the words of Subway Artiste number one, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. That’s mixing cold food with hot food’. Like, WTF.

In the left hand, surf; in the right, turf; in the middle ... Bacon.

Our companions, Trent and Em, stuck to the cookies; Em wisely decided not to risk the future of her unborn child by eating any of the cold sandwich fillings. I took a bite from the triple meat monstrosity with great reluctance: eating here for our epicurean adventure was bad enough, food poisoning would be taking things too far.

Pictured: too far.

The surprise of the night was that the meat sanger was actually more edible than Subway’s most popular sandwich, the chicken parmie. There were so many chemicals floating about in the strange seafood and tomato meatball sauces that it tasted flavoursome and much more palatable than the combination of items suggest. The chicken parmie was dry, processed and tasted like a manky biscuit.

Subway had neither the lows of Ding Hao (chicken and jellyfish) nor the highs (the ribs). It was just crap in general. I don’t really get the point. McDonalds may destroy rainforests and exploit fourteen-year-olds but the French fries are awesome. I could make a sandwich at home that would out do Subway in a minute. The
strange, slightly astringent but sugary bread can be outdone by a slice of bleached white Tip Top.

Yes, I am a fancy bread person. I eat bread that comes from an Italian bakery and often has no English name. I eat Ciabattini. I have pane burro. Last week I read an article on The Age about the classification of wholegrain bread in Australia. Yes, because I was actually interested in our food labelling laws (I realise someone interested in fibre content is showing their age). I’ll eat rye, sourdough, pumpkins seeds, whatever’s actually made with some knowledge of what bread is.

What am I really saying? Well, just in case you missed it, don’t go to Subway, the bread sucks. In Em’s words, the presentation of it was no better:

‘Looks like a dirty nappy’.


  1. I haven't been to Subway for a good many years, the last time I went (2003?)the food was pretty good. I'm sorry to read here that it's gone downhill.
    Seafood extender? Really??
    That last photo does look yukky.

  2. Beautiful. You guys MUST write a book about this series of culinary adventures - you must!

    LOVED THIS: 'It looked like a shotgun wound to the butt hole. With Bacon,' and agree entirely with Mele's opinion that the bread stinks and is utterly wrong. (I've always felt queasy when I smell their 'bread', yet the rest of my family seem to love it).

    The full nappy quip had me laughing so hard that Love Chunks had to come in and check that I was okay...!

  3. River - Really. I'm never sure why seafood extender has that name either. I can't really picture the embarrassed housewife saving the undercatered fish dinner with that stuff ('Nobody but me can tell it might not be food!').

    Kath - They bake it at work and it's often the first thing I smell as I climb the hill in the morning. Saps my will to work. That's what I tell the boss anyway ...

  4. Have you seen the advert endorsing Eftpos saying that handling cash is so dirty so it's better to use eftpos. However, what they don't say is that you also touch the key pads which is the same as handling money, or the fact that the person that hands you the product has also touched the money.

    The other thing is the hand stuff that cleans all germs. How are we expected to become immune to things if we continue to protect ourselves against these things.

  5. Shippy - That's just what the stripper said!
    Also - why do we do up our pants after going to the toilet and THEN wash our hands? Why don't we wash our hands every time we touch our dirty dirty trousers?


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32