Tag Archives: sea bass

Flying in the face of good food

We’d all agree that nothing beats getting away from it all. But these days nobody’s holiday can ever truly start until they’ve got through the familiar ordeal of flying Ryanair. Until then, the excitement of the holiday will inevitably be shot through with jagged shards of frustration and resentment. It’s like having to remove the skin and bones from your sea bass before you can really start to enjoy it.

So you found the cheapest possible flight and negotiated the cryptic set of tick boxes engineered to fool you into stumping up for the privilege of: a) standing in the (only marginally shorter) speedy boarding queue, b) sitting with your child, or c) seeing larger items of your luggage actually emerge at the other end.

At home you weighed and measured your hand luggage countless times, damned if you were going to spend even a penny more on extra bags or excess luggage fines.

And you spent the night in the draughty hall of some back-of-beyond airport waiting for the check-in desk to open for your 4am flight because you couldn’t face spending money on a hotel or taxi.

Inexplicably, though, once you’re airborne and the never-ending, spiraling assault on your instant gratification gland by the flight attendants begins – headphones for the film, charity collections, duty-free booze, scratch card sales – the wallets start to come out. Unfathomably, a group of people whose only motivation for flying Ryanair was the price and who’d all been cursing the airline only minutes beforehand are now handing over their hard-earned holiday savings to that very same company.

How do Ryanair do it? Do they pump some sort of magic potion out of the air conditioning ducts that makes you forget that you’ve spent the past few weeks boasting to colleagues about the wonderful food you’re going to eat while on holiday, and drooling over the pictures in the brochure of string bags full of local market produce? That you swished through the airport without a passing glance at the chain restaurants, tutting impatiently about how overpriced they all are? That at no time during your stint in the departure lounge did you profess a desire for a pot of Pringles? That last time you ordered something from the Ryanair on-board menu it was not only criminally underwhelming but also the same size as its picture? And that nothing on the menu has changed since then?

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What the foc…?

I don’t pretend to be a food expert (much). But I’d like to think that, as my career progresses, I’ll be well on my way there, and I’m certainly no novice now. That’s why during dinner last night, I died inside just a little.

My would-be in-laws had descended on us with a few others in tow. The Incident happened just after we’d settled in at the restaurant I’d booked to their specifications – those specifications being, ‘Somewhere in Mayfair, nowhere pricey, but a place that does excellent quality seafood’ (gulp). Perhaps they didn’t realise that a modicum of expertise is needed to book anywhere decent at all at short notice for 8pm on a Saturday night, and were unaware of the foodie feat I’d already performed smoothly behind the scenes.

In any case, the Spanish conversation was flowing. Let me just reiterate an important part of that last sentence: the Spanish conversation. There I was, holding my own as we discussed, among other things, books we’d read, the meaning of the word ‘synergy’, prime number theories – none subjects I would list as within my realm of specialist knowledge…

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