Friday, October 06, 2006

Culinary Traveling Woes

The change caught me off guard. I guess I hadn’t been paying attention. We were on a flight someplace, nicely settled, expecting the meal, and then I got a sense that things weren’t right. Instead of those big lumbering trolleys going by with that smell, they were selling stuff. Horrible little wizened sandwiches; cold, soggy, and exact change please.

On subsequent trips I got wise and bought something before getting on the plane, but it’s not the same.

When everyone was getting those MOT’s (Meals On Trays), there was sort of a camaraderie amongst passengers: We’re all in this together. I know the food’s disgusting, but isn’t this the most decadent thing. Being served meals at 30,000 feet? Gone.

Twice now, when traveling alone, I’ve bought food to take but have almost been embarrassed to eat it. I say almost, as I don’t do well without food.

Eating is now optional. You can decide not to buy or bring something. It’s no longer a shared experience, it’s personal, but how can you make it personal when you’ve got your elbows in someone else’s face and they’re not eating.

The first time it happened, I felt sorry for the kid next to me. A big strapping six foot tall 19-year old member of the UBC swim team. How can he fly from Montreal to Vancouver without eating? Maybe he didn’t have any money. Maybe they had a huge meal before they left. I don’t know. But I do know I felt guilty eating my Montreal purchased baguette with smoked meat and fried sweet peppers.

The second time, I was stuck in the middle of two non-eaters. I waited as long as I could, and then bolted down half a sub.

I guess we rack this up to economics again forcing us apart from those shared experiences that bind. This time eroding a fundamentally social event: the shared meal, even thought it was mostly just bad food and elbows in the way of each other.

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