Adventures in catering part one
September 16, 2010 10 Comments
Wednesday’s vegetarian option is liver and onions. Sigh.
Welcome to public sector catering. Saint Jamie of Oliver, your work here is not yet done.
Let me share some stories with you. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin with the story of the vegetarian Christmas gravy.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a nut roast in possession of all the trimmings must be in need of veggie gravy. I don’t often venture down to the canteen as the resulting week-long indigestion isn’t really worth the effort. But last Christmas my colleagues and I decided the drop the bah-humbug attitude and join in with the office Christmas lunch. After queuing for a couple of hours (the catering assistants don’t do fast) I arrived at the servery and asked politely for my delicious vegetarian dinner. The assistant sighed heavily and went off in search of the nut roast, which she plonked onto a plastic plate.
‘Gravy?’ she demanded, wielding a meatily dripping jug.
‘Um, do you have vegetarian gravy?’ I asked, aware of sounding faintly ridiculous.
‘We’ve got gravy,’ she growled, swishing the jug. I’m now aware of starving colleagues fidgeting in the queue behind me.
‘But it’s meat gravy, ‘ I said, ‘and I’m, um, well I’m a vegetarian.’
She shifted her bosom up under her pinny.
‘THIS ONE,’ she bellowed into the kitchen, hooking her thumb at me, ‘WANTS VEGETARIAN GRAVY.’
Everyone in the queue turned to glare at me. I slunk away, gravy-less.
A few minutes later when I’d eaten most of my dinner, a catering size jug with a couple of litres of yellow-coloured water was plonked by my side.
‘It’s your vegetarian gravy,’ snarled the assistant. ‘Enjoy your meal.’
Usually I bring my own packed lunch when I can be bothered to make one. Pity the participants of our courses who have no choice in the catering but are so intimidated by the huffing and puffing from behind the counter that they daren’t complain.
I’d rather not have obsequeious staff in the kitchen (I’m British after all and I can’t be doing with all that have a nice day nonsense) but I’m sure we can do better that this. Can’t we?
What have been your experiences of corporate hostility hospitality?