This is Not a Whopper…


The world’s most expensive sandwich went on sale Monday morning at Selfridge’s in London. 148 American dollars for this 595 gram monster. For all of you that aren’t as quick on the draw as I am with Yahoo’s Metric Converter, that is 20.998 ozs.

This seriously disturbed me. I know I pick the craziest things to obsess and get worked up about, but this one is odd even for me. I couldn’t understand how they could charge that much for ONE SANDWICH. meat. cheese. bread. and I couldn’t understand how anyone could pay that much for said meat, cheese, and bread. And I thought about this. A lot. To the point that I realized until I had investigated this a little deeper, I might not be able to sleep. Therefore, I embarked on a journey to make a “reasonable facsimile” of “The McDonald” to see what made this particular sandwich so great.

I will take this paragraph to make a little  journalistic aside.  I do not plan to footnote my sources. I am seriously doubting anyone but me cares anything about this and will still be hanging with me this far into the topic. However, if by chance, someone is reading along and is bothered by my lack of references; have no fear, I can provide them.

Now that we’ve got that all cleared up, I surfed everywhere “shopping” for the ingredients to replicate the original. I tried to be fair about “purchasing” the ingredients; as in, I didn’t go out of my way to “cheap out.” I also learned quite a bit tracking this crap down. I will just share my new found tidbits of information as I go along.

First things first: the bread. “The McDonald” uses “24 hour fermented sour dough.” what the hell that actually is? I still don’t know. I found at my own personal grocery store, where one can shop online, they have a very good sour dough for $3.79 a loaf. I “bought” the whole loaf.

Meat. There are 2 meats on this sandwich: Wagyu beef and fresh lobe foie de gras. The beef is where the real cost of this sandwich comes from.

Big Ass Sandwich 
Wagyu beef is derived from pampered Japanese Kobe cattle – animals that live in luxurious conditions reflected in the meat’s high price.

Each animal is reared in an individually heated stall and fed on top-quality grain whilst exercise is restricted, ensuring that each beast grows to reach mammoth proportions.

During the fattening process, the animals are fed sake and beer to increase their appetites and the lucky ones even enjoy the services of masseur – a treatment that is meant to make the meat more tender.

Isn’t it rather disheartening to realize that in Japan, some cows lead a better life than we do? Granted, the ending leaves something to be desired, I’m sure.

I found shabu cut (wafer thin slices) wagyu beef in 4 oz packets sold for 175 dollars in a 10 lb box. I figure that a sandwich that big you’d use 8 ozs of the beef. 2 packets. $8.75 for the meat. The first difference I can point out between their sandwich and mine is they had the beef flown in special from Japan. I imagine that would make it cost a bit more than mine.

Fresh lobe foie de gras. When I first started thinking (ok obsessing) about all this, I assumed they were talking about pate’. and i thought “oh wow. how fabulous!” As I researched this, I realized they weren’t. “Fresh lobe” refers to the liver of said animal, simply removed and chilled and ready to go. Learning that killed any desire I might have harbored to try either sandwich, theirs or mine. $71.75 will buy one a flash frozen entire lobe foie de gras. I figured that 3 oz would do for this sandwich (which is 3 ozs more than i would ever eat) and that would make the LIVER cost $13.44.

I very firmly believe that any sandwich except peanut butter needs cheese. At least in this, the chef agreed with me. He chose Brie de Maux. I don’t have an opinion to offer there, never having tried this particular cheese. “One of the most IMPORTANT cheeses in France.” I am not sure what makes this cheese so “important”, but I am all into brie so I won’t mock that claim. I figured 3 ozs of cheese would be the special kind of overkill that this sandwich seems to demand. A 6.6 pound wheel will set one back $119.85; so the cost of putting this cheese on my sandwich works out to be $3.72.

I pretended as though I were at a deli for the meat and cheese and could just purchase what I intended to use. I can’t bring myself to insert another fantasy within the whole fantasy of this entire exercise; so the rest of the ingredients, I will just “purchase” the “whole thing” and absorb it into the cost of the sandwich.

Black Truffle Mayonaisse. ick. Just the thought of that turns me off of the thought of eating anything for the next week. I found one had to take the internet to France in order to get this. Why am I not suprised? The cost of this “delicacy” is $19.75. Flame roasted red peppers can be had for 15 bucks a jar. English plum tomatoes: I got those on Amazon.com (go figure) for $1.39 a pound.

The next ingredient was a bit of a learning experience for me. The first article I read talked about “roquet.” I found *nothing* about this.  After reading a few more articles about the wonder and greatness that is “The Sandwich,” I saw the word spelled “rocket.” Honestly, the first few times I saw that word, I thought they had spelled it wrong. “Foreign newspapers. They don’t know the difference.” But I was reaching maximum frustration level at not being able to find any websites about “roquet” (ok. tons and tons of croqeut references but that doesnt help me) so I finally did a search on “rocket” and “food.” Lo and behold, .007 seconds on Google later, I learned that roquet, aka rocket, was simply arugula. Quick little virtual jaunt back to my online grocery store and I “picked up” a bunch for $1.39. “THE BEHOMOTH” has it’s arugula soaked in avacado oil. Mine does too! I found a bottle for 10.95!

With one exception, my sandwich is now complete. “Mustard Confit.” Can’t find it. Can’t buy it. Not clue one what it might be. I’m forced to leave it off my sandwich. I did everything I could think of to find it. I searched recipe sites, I did a dog pile search, I did every search engine I could think of that wasn’t on the dog pile. I’m no closer to solving that mystery than I was when this whole little windmill extravaganza began. The only things i *do* know for certain about it; several very fine restaurants the world over feature it on special menus, and I could bid on some very lovely antique mustard confit pots on Ebay. Granted, that does open up for conjecture that it is something ….melty or sauce like? dunno.  After 3 hours, I gave up. and yes. I did say 3 hours. I’m a freak. I can admit it.

So. Assembly. Or more accurately, final tallies. The base price for me ended up being $78.18 for one of these bad boys. However, in fairness, I feel I have to mention that since so much of this stuff would have to be purchased on the internet, one would also have to figure the shipping costs into the price. So there is a little bit more (or a lot more actually) added on to the cost of my sandwich. Taking that into consideration, and the fact of God only knows how much my missing ingredient might cost, I was able to satisfactorily answer my own question of “how can they charge SO MUCH?”

I see how they can. I also see how in fairness, there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of markup to the actual production cost of this monstrosity. So I can let go of half of my issues with this sandwich. This does NOT take care of the other half of my problem. “WHO THE HELL WOULD BUY THIS DAMN THING???????” For me, even if I happened to have a spare 148 dollars sitting around with absolutely nothing else to do with it but buy ….a sandwich, I don’t think I would buy it. Even non-withstanding the fact that I’d have to remove several of the ingredients in order to eat it.

So I’m still pondering that second part. But for the first part, I can lay it down down and go on with my life now.

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~ by Layla on April 14, 2006.

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