While it’s important to embrace your new surroundings when moving to a new country, what’s really helped keep me sane (okay, maybe not SANE, but it’s at least kept me from rocking myself to sleep in a corner while I click my heels and whimper “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”) is being able to enjoy little bits of said home as often as is practically possible. Food makes me very happy, so how much better is food that also triggers fond memories and temporarily creates the illusion that if you yanked back your curtains you’d be staring at your own front yard, even if just for a few minutes?
I’m not big on Debonairs pizza (sorry tuxedo’d dudes!). I like my pizza like I like my catwalk models – thin, flaky and smelling faintly of smoke. But if there’s one menu item of theirs I crave on a regular basis it’s their Club Sub. It hits all the right spots and here, in particular, it reminds me of happy times back home with good company. This easy dinner is whipped up in a quarter of an hour. Just save a bit of Marinara sauce the next time you make and freeze it in portions (ice cube trays work great!) or buy a bottle of ready-made.
1 large or 2 medium sized baguettes
2 chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and diced into 1cm cubes
150g ham*, diced into 1cm cubes
4 tablespoons of mayo (or to taste), lightly seasoned
125ml Marinara sauce (if you don’t have, just use 2 tablespoons of tomato paste)
1 cup grated cheese (mozzarella is best, but not always easy to find here)
Preheat your grill. Combine the chicken, ham and mayo in a bowl. Slice the baguette in half lengthways and toast lightly under the grill. Divide the Marinara equally between the two slices and smear evenly over each half. Top with the meat mixture, sprinkle cheese over the top and grill until bubbly.
* Eating meat products in China is a bit of a culinary Russian roulette. Not so much because you’re not always sure whether the animal you’re eating died in a sustainable and humane way (probably not) , but because the Chinese tend to eat a lot of sickeningly sweet meat. Few people can forget their first time biting into a piece of bakkwa when they were expecting biltong. It’s akin to finding your dad putting presents under the Christmas tree in his sleep shorts when you were expecting Santa. But the Yurun range of pork products is actually pretty good. Their barbequed pork is slightly sweet, but only in a general BBQ sauce kind of way and can be substituted for ham and they even make a passable banger!