Saturday, June 09, 2007

looking forward to airport food

I've spent the past week in Louisville, KY, scoring essays for this year's AP French exam. We meet in a convention center and have our meals in a huge room where we are herded like sheep to buffet troughs full of either very dry or very soggy food doused in salt and surrounded by white rolls, potatoes, and rice. (Even the leaders refer to the dining hall as the "House of Starch.") It is uniformly dreadful. It is the worst institutional food I have ever had. And it's not even a cafeteria--they're caterers!

Now, I understand that feeding 2000 people quickly presents lots of challenges. But surely they don't have to boil every ounce of flavor and texture out of the vegetables. And can't they bring themselves to put more than one tablespoon of marinara on each manicotti? Doesn't "chicken piccata" imply a sauce with lemons and capers? Or at least a sauce? Why not yogurt and granola for breakfast instead of gummy reconstituted powdered eggs and flavorless donuts?

To be fair, the vegetarian meat loaf today was actually tasty, and desserts like lemon cake with cream cheese frosting and brownies crusted with chocolate chips help me get through the meals. But when the cereal guy confesses that all the milk in the carafes marked "1%," "2%," and "whole" is actually skim, you start to wonder what else they're misrepresenting and what other corners they're cutting.

The lowest point was yesterday's vegetarian lunch selection: bean curd stir-fry with vegetables. I still had enough optimism left to be excited about that. Turns out it was the previous night's overboiled green beans mixed with the previous lunch's overboiled carrots with some tofu thrown in. No soy sauce, no ginger, no garlic, definitely no stir frying involved.

And these are French teachers they're feeding--the most culinarily discriminating of all the possible graders!

Let's just say that I'm actually looking forward to eating breakfast in the airport on the way home tomorrow. And then I'll spend the rest of the morning drooling in anticipation of lunch at my chef extraordinaire mother-in-law's!



Blogger tara said...

That "stir-fry" sounds horrifying.

When I think of bad buffets, Sarah, I will never forget our Ft. Collins Chinese buffet experience. The jello, the "chicken on stick," the waitress who spilled water all over our table and just left it there, and the serious case of the giggles we had the whole time.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Ah, good times. That was by far the best bad buffet ever!

Forgot another detail about how dreadful these caterers were: At one snack break, they brought out a cart of ice cream sandwiches which had clearly been purchased somewhere else. You'd think that the caterers couldn't ruin those--but you'd be wrong. They'd been kept too warm, and my ice cream sandwich bent at a 60-degree angle!

The final result of the trough buffet: food poisoning. I've been vomiting since last night! No fun. Even worse, I wasn't able to partake of much of my MIL's fabulous meal today!

6:51 PM  
Blogger tara said...

Oh no! Are you feeling better now? Were you OK on your flight? I can't even imagine having to get on a plane while suffering the after-effects of food poisoning. How awful.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Yep, I made it home without further incident!

6:36 PM  
Blogger Judy said...


11:16 AM  
Blogger Molly M said...

So, Sarah, I now discover that you have TWO blogs? And together they cover two of my favorite topics-- French and food? Sheesh.. what are you trying to do to me? Now I'll get even less done in a day! :)

Sometime when you're in Madison, we must go to l'Etoile together. It is, indeed, Madison's star restaurant-- consistenty named one of the top in the nation. Combine that with the farmer's market and it's a foodie paradise.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Hi Molly! Thanks for stopping by this blog too. I've heard about l'Etoile--would love to visit it! Maybe next summer?

8:34 PM  

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