There’s a great deal you might infer about the hot hatchback, it seems to me, if you stop for a moment to contemplate the fish-finger sandwich.
Both are the sort of indulgences that lend themselves perfectly to the enrichment of the everyday. Both are extraordinary, some might even say unlikely, triumphs of human ingenuity made from fairly ordinary ingredients. And yet both can be corrupted so easily if you disregard the modesty and simplicity of their make-up and let your tastes for the exotic run riot.
Sliced white bread, fishy digits of unspectacular quality (arranged transversely for optimal space efficiency), a scrape of margarine and a (traditional) condiment of your choice – that’s the upper limit on how ambitious one ought to be with a fish-finger sarnie. As I regularly remind my better half, at no point should Nando’s extra-hot sauce be part of the equation. In a similar vein, a really good four-cylinder engine, a great manual gearbox, a driven front axle and a good sprinkle of seasoning with the specification of your tyres, suspension, brakes and diff is probably as exotic as it’s advisable to be in the construction of your hot hatchback.
Anyone who’s been tempted, as I once was, to slip a pickled gherkin (thinly sliced, obviously – I’m not an idiot) in between “cod” and bread will know how Icarus must have felt the night before his big flight when he inadvertently made his Warburtons soggy. I have since learned to be highly suspicious of the fish-finger ciabatta when eating out – especially if it comes with any menu-born mention of tartar sauce. Here’s the lesson, folks: if you want wonderful out of these things, you mustn’t get carried away with what you put in.