Sunday, October 01, 2006

The mash bites back!

Today I had the pleasure of experiencing one of the budget airlines so I could appreciate the true joy that is Stansted airport. It's not the airport per se that is the issue but more the whole setup and the compulsory excessive queuing. I had arrived very early (for me) and I didn't realise that you couldn't just check in, you had to stand around and then queue exactly 2 hours before the flight was due to take off. I decided that I might as well grab something to eat; as there isn't quite the selection of enticing boutiques I'm familiar with at Heathrow and selected O'Neill's as probably the best of a poor lot. You are supposed to secure a table and then order your food from the bar. This is a tricky operation for the lone traveller as securing a table means leaving your bags unattended in a crowded bar which at an airport means 'please remove my bags and dispose of in a controlled explosion'. Fortunately they were able to get me a waitress and I plumped for Sausages and Colcannon. I had meant to say "hold the gravy" but in the general excitement of securing a place to perch I forgot.

The gravy wasn't very good; it was too thick and scalding. In fact the abiding taste of the O'Neal's sausages and colcannon was burning flesh as the roof of my mouth was sacrificed to the great god of mash - Irish mash. I am afraid it wasn't a good exponent of the hearty Irish dish but the little I had sustained me until finer fare in France. Needless to say I didn't partake of any of the onboard offerings, as a) I had eaten enough at O'Neill's and I needed to leave my mouth to heal and b) due to unexplained circumstances, they had no hot food or sandwiches which I believe meant they had nothing more substantial than a packet of peanuts.

I sat and read my other new book, the rather wonderful Sudi Pigott's 'how to be a better foodie' and spent much of the flight nodding and 'uhu'ing. Clearly this book was written with me in mind! The first section is "how to be truly greedy without appearing so - and develop gustatory stamina", and the second is "the better foodie store cupboard - Prada for your larder." there's some fantastic stuff (though slightly tongue in cheek!) in this book and I do (rather anorak-ishly) have to agree with so much. I'm clearly a better foodie; well certainly pretty obsessed with all things epicurean! Though you may have spotted that already! The book is also rather fabulously decked out in pale pink and chocolate brown, it looks almost edible! It kept me very busy on the journey over to France and maybe whilst I'm here I can do a bit of Prada shopping for my larder. Well, when in France...

On arrival, there didn't seem to be a huge difference to the French countryside from the English until you looked closer. The patchwork fields are there but less green and more pale yellow almost white and brown though it's fair to say that all has been safely gathered in recently and what is left is either ploughed furrows or pale corn stubble.

La Rochelle is a dot of an airport, the KK of airports if you will. The plane next to us on the tarmac looked like it would be soon being piloted by the Red Baron! It wasn't long before we'd hit the road towards Vouvant.

The holiday starts here and the food definitely gets better!

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