The cheese sandwich

  • Mature cheddar
  • Mango chutney
  • Mayonnaise (a tiny tiny bit)
  • A slice of tomato
  • A slice of apple (for the crunch)
  • Bread
  • Make a sandwich, toast it

That morning, my whole life was packed in 2 suitcases and I remember thinking “Ok… so this is what rock bottom feels like, I think I can handle it”. I was back in London but did not have a home anymore. A few days earlier, I had found a room to rent online, from some guy who was traveling for a month. Beyond that, I did not have a plan. As always, my life had no plan.

My plane landed in Heathrow and I had nowhere to go but this room in an apartment very far from my old neighborhood. I did not want to go back to my old neighborhood. It was 6am and still dark; I didn’t have the keys to the apartment, only an address, and the phone number of the guy who would be my flatmate.

I sent him an sms, notifying him of my arrival, and, because it was still very early, I looked for a nearby cafe where I could wait until he woke up. But it turned out the Flatmate was waiting for me at the apartment. A sweet, considerate man with a nice smile and funny jokes. Like me, he came from warmer sunshines, and like me he became a passionate Londoner. By the time I took a shower, he had a cheese sandwich waiting for me in the kitchen. I was so touched I took a picture, and I remember thinking I should remember this moment. I remember thinking I should write about this. For the record, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, I hardly ever take pictures of food I didn’t make myself. Look, not even an Instagram filter:

My unique state of desperation, loss, confusion, exhaustion, and the Flatmate’s nice, spontaneous gesture were really the only reason I actually ate mayonnaise, mango chutney and cheddar. Under ANY other circumstance, this would not have been possible. I had always hated all 3 ingredients. Until then, I had lived a year in London, cursing the smell of mature cheddar and the taste of chutney.

I was scared when my plane landed, this sandwich reconciled me with a city I love.

It also tasted pretty good, and now I make it often (without mayonnaise). The familiar warm cheese, interrupted by the friendly crunch of apple, made more interesting with the sweetness of chutney, brought back home in the tomato freshness.

Or maybe it’s just that moment, that moment was perfect.

Of course, the Flatmate turned out to be weird and annoying, the unique kind of weird you can only discover when you share a bathroom with someone for a month and half: long enough to know all their quirks, not long enough to get over it. His jokes will soon stop being funny. He will make dinner again, and I won’t like it. I will eventually hate him and that flat, but on that morning, with that sandwich, the Flatmate was the nicest person on planet earth.

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