I’m working for a restaurant magazine this week. Here is an account of what I ate for lunch:
There is no canteen here. The only place that serves food in walking distance is a gargantuan leisure centre, home to a climbing wall, swimming pool, and to Crawley’s chaviest inhabitants. You might expect the food to be healthy in such a place. It is not. Children get free orange juice to wash down their chips and pizza, and that’s as good as it gets.
I opt for ‘chicken and leek soup and half a baguette’ – the only option not wallowing in saturated fat under the hot lights. And still, despite all I’d seen, I was excited by what might be in the half baguette – mature cheddar cheese; ham salad; a beefburger sliced in two…
I took my tray and tried to find a table. I decided to avoid the row of nonces ogling the toddlers in the pool through the giant glass wall; and the seats located in spitting distance of the climbers; instead I opted to face three sour-faced receptionists, clearly bitter after experiencing the enforced irony of having to sit so aggressively inactive in a temple of exercise.
The baguette was not a baguette at all but the nobby of a baguette; the hardened talon of a bread monster who came into power after ridding the universe of good bakers. It was not overflowing with fresh fillings but whole and hard as the hobs of hell. And the soup, well the soup was appalling: a green snot of stock and mechanically-separated chicken. There was so much salt in it that my eyes began to crust up: I looked like I’d just woken up from a thousand year sleep. It was not a good start.