Saturday, 9 July 2011

Hardly a transport of delight

Saturday morning. And it's another train journey, to oop north. This time, for a meeting in Leeds.

The journey offers the chance to muse a little, while enjoying the English countryside. It also offers the chance to enjoy the most solid 'croissant' in history; a confection filled with slices of tomato and plastic cheese that were both distinctly knackered by the time they faced the challenge of my palate. The sole consolation was that it was complimentary.

The French, I want to say in a tone that would reek of hurrumphing, would revolt if faced with such fare - but that's not the case. French train food is dismal too, which is why so many travellers in that country simply take their own fodder with them.

So there's probably a lesson here: don't expect pre-packed food to be any good and don't grumble when it isn't - take your own.

Actually, I have to admit to something close to a food fetish when it comes to train travel in the UK: prawn sandwiches. Yes, I know they're not great: yes, I know the mayo isn't real mayo, that the prawns will have been frozen and that the bread is Chorleywood slabs of factory mush, but they have become so much my default selection when I need to grab food before embarking, that it has now almost become a culinary St Christopher medal.

Like settling for a pint of 'cooking lager' in one of the millions of pubs that have never even known that we have a wonderful brewing heritage, you do it because you know what you're going to get.

Two weeks hence, we'll be starting the great French trip. The first stage on Eurostar is heartening from a food point of view: a perfectly acceptable breakfast as we leave perfidious Albion behind and head across countryside that still shows, if you look closely, the faded scars of war.

We will change at Lille, heading on foot the short distance from the station that was built especially for the brave new era of a rail link between Britain and the rest of Europe, to the more stately building on the edge of the old city.

The big question is whether to nip into the shopping centre that we will pass on that brief jaunt. In order to pick up food for the afternoon as we head on a TGV to Bordeaux - or whether I do a quick shop the night before and make a picnic.

Sometimes it doesn't take much to amuse me - and the idea of constructing a coals-to-Newcastle style food bag of French produce to take back to France (including wine, of course) tickles my fancy. But I suspect much will expend on how tired I am by that Friday evening - and how much needs doing before we depart the next day.

But whichever option we take, there will be no croissants of the variety that I could barely face this morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment