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I was eating at a Subway restaurant the other day and they asked if I would like my flatbread toasted... I responded with a "No thanks."

The Chef said, "Well technically the flatbread still HAS to be toasted, so would you like the meat toasted ?"

In confusion, I asked, "Why? I would prefer it un-toasted."

The Chef said, "We are required to toast all flatbread, as it releases some chemical... or something."

Can anyone clear up what he may be referring to? Does flatbread (non-homemade) HAVE to be toasted / cooked / microwaved ?

Edit:

Ingredients: Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid, malted barley flour), water, soybean oil, yeast, contains 2% or less of nonfat dry milk, salt, wheat gluten, sugar, dough conditioner (acacia gum, guar gum, ascorbic acid, L- cysteine, enzymes), calcium propionate, baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate), and sodium stearoyl lactylate.

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This isn't really answerable without knowing what's in the flatbread, which would be greatly aided if you hadn't redacted (and put in italics, no less) information from your question. Of course, the bread is already baked, so... –  derobert Apr 16 '12 at 15:16
    
Do you expect all non-home breadmakers all over the world to use the same recipe for all flatbreads? Especially one which results in a product which, if used like many people would (eaten without special preparation) is harmful? It makes no sense. Maybe there is something special about the brand of flatbread they use, but we can't say anything without more info on the brand. –  rumtscho Apr 16 '12 at 15:18
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Good Gravy people, how many sub making restaurants are there and how unsubtle does the OP have to be before you catch on? –  ElendilTheTall Apr 16 '12 at 17:39
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@ElendilTheTall, remember some of our contributors, and even moderators, don't live in North America, and I don't know how "global" some sub making restaurants are. On the other hand perhaps some caves in Virginia have the same internet provider as the caves in Afghanistan. For my part I question the use of the term Chef in this context. –  Cos Callis Apr 17 '12 at 5:12
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@ElendilTheTall well, I of course guess that he means Subway, but there are at least five major sub chains around here: Subway, Blimpie, Jerry's, Quiznos, Potbelly. Mainly, I object to this silly style of question writing; there is no reason to redact the name, and it just makes answering and later searching for the question harder. –  derobert Apr 17 '12 at 14:40
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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If we're talking about the same sub making restaurant, their flatbread contains the following ingredients:

Enriched wheat flour (flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, malted barley flour, ascorbic acid), water, soybean oil, yeast; contains 2% or less of: nonfat dry milk, wheat gluten, salt, dough conditioners (guar gum, Arabic gum, sodium stearoyl lactylate, enzymes), sugar, baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate), calcium propionate.

I can see nothing in there that isn't in found in commercial soft white bread. It may well be a case of an overzealous legal department acting on the merest possibility of a hint of an idea that one ingredient may perhaps have the potential to maybe sometimes cause a problem if not cooked.

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I believe we are speaking of the same place. Thank you for your answer! –  Zero Stack Apr 16 '12 at 15:36
    
Your original post indicates that meat was included as an ingredient. I do believe this chain requires toasting for certain proteins (chicken, bacon). –  Kyle B. Dec 10 '13 at 21:15
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Most likely the flatbread is not very pliable when cold. I believe that Subway forces the heating of the flatbread to keep it from splitting when they fold it.

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Some restaurants may prefer to toast fladbreads slightly in order to serve hot, but unfortunately the chef in question here seems to be either not too good at explaining things in English, or may have just tried to convince the customer that the toasting requirement was something serious.

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Consider the humble supermarket pita. The kind with the ridiculously long shelf life.

Straight from the packet, it's pretty miserable. It's chewy - not in a good way. It tastes of cardboard.

Toast it however, and it comes to life. The slight browning of the outside improves the flavour. The steaming of the inside softens the bread inside.

I'll bet the Subway flatbread has similar properties.

Now, if I ran a fast food chain that sold sandwiches based on a bread like this, I'd make sure my staff were trained to always toast it. Even if a customer asks for it untoasted, that would mean they'd go away with a sandwich that I know won't be very nice. I would rather take away the customer's choice, than sell them something that's not good. Subway does not want thousands of customers telling their friends the flatbread isn't nice.

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The reason subway has to "heat" the flatbread is to make it soft. If you want it toasted you get it with the meat and cheese toasted under a hotter setting that actually toasts it. When subway released the flatbread they understood some people don't want there sub toasted so in order to comply with this request they have the option of just heating the flatbread without the meat and cheese on it under a heat setting in the toaster. It doesn't toast it just warms it up enough so it's soft and doesn't break apart or crumble when they fold it or while you eat it. I know most people aren't use to being told they "have" to order something a certain way but believe me if you don't heat the flatbread it's not edible. Unless you like dry crusty crumbly bread with stale taste.

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