Disgustipating hotel food

When I worked the trade show/presentation circuit in the 1990s, I’d often have to hunt down “lost” components of our booth. On the way to the super secret customer package storage depot, I’d see the inner operations of hotels. Employees weren’t maintaining the facade they do in public, tossing stuff around, fraternizing in the nooks, and overlooking the unrefrigerated food. This greatly influenced my negative opinions on the wisdom of eating in the hotel.

Customer: Waiter, what’s that fly doing in my soup?
Waiter: Wavelets?

Those memories had faded until Monday, when we made the mistake of eating lunch in the hotel cafe to “save time.” Craig, my coworker, had to send his sandwich back three times before they got it “more or less” right. I was feeling good about ordering a fruit salad until I found a (dead) bug under the green melon. I didn’t look under the canteloupe.
We made the mistake again that evening when we were being overly frugal with our per diem and ate at the “reception.” During the day, when the conference actually has a “continental breakfast,” it consists of platters of dripping hydrogenated croissants, thawed out mini-danishes and flavorless bagels. The reception’s evening menu extends this: bulbous, fatty hand-carved roast white meat beast; sterno-heated grease wraps; fried meat on sticks; cubes of lukewarm cheese, and over-cooked rotini.

(Jeez, Hilton, how fracking hard is it to correctly cook pasta?)

Groovy, I just saved a lot on my insurance!

This conference is a two-fer, meaning we get two keynotes (opening the conference) and two capstones (closing). This morning’s keynote session was scheduled to start at 8:00 a.m., an awful time for those of us who were up past 1:00 a.m. watching the Astros figuring out a way to blow a lead in the World Series game. (Even the Fox statistician was getting punchy, quoting how many times they’ve switched camera angles and referencing the Heidi Game) What they the conference program neglects to mention was the first 70 minutes would be allocated to other administrative overhead like thanking the people who put on the show, doing in memoriams, grubbing for corporate sponsorships and pre-announcing future conferences. It’s a combination of an opening band without music and the fifteen minutes of commercials that precede movies these days.

The keynote speaker’s presentation on point cloud parameterization for texture mapping was interesting, especially now that it includes boolean operators, though the custom hardware component is a red flag as ASICs are expensive. He included some cool animations like melting heads and modeling various viscous fluids being squirted at a transparent box. Silver mayonnaise is much more amusing than you’d think.

The morning session is most relevant to what my company’s doing. The first presenter’s information is very intriguing, and may be the best takeaway so far. The second to presenters have droned on in hypnotic accents. Several of us were doing the head-bob equivalent of “the wave.” I have a copy of all the papers to read on the flight back.

13 thoughts on “Disgustipating hotel food”

  1. If you get enough flies in your soup, you could have an entire Buzby Berkley musical right at your table!

    You have to figure that for the most part, hotel restaurant staff aren’t generally going to be on the cutting edge of the foodservice industry. Of course, many restaurants aren’t either.

    I once requested a box to take home the remainder of a pizza. When the box arrived, it was making a scratching sound. I opened the pizza box to find a cockroach, eagerly awaiting my pizza and an all-expense paid vacation at my house. When I brought it to the attention of the waitress, she just shrugged and brought me a new box.

  2. The Girlfriend worked in food service all during undergrad and graduate school. Trust me, you do NOT want to know what goes on behind the scenes at any public eating establishment (just think “syrup room” and you’ll be able to figure out some of the nasties).

    And given that I’ve read Fast Food Nation, I have to wonder why we aren’t all dead of food poisoning.

    Hope the flight was uneventful. And why aren’t you outlining your NaNo novel? 😉

  3. This posting and comments remind me of the comedy series that aired on BBC (and PBS for a while) called “CHEF!” (which recently came out on DVD). Quite hillarious “behind the scenes” events.

  4. John: home the remainder of a pizza

    ew… I’ve not had something that egregious.

    Woodstock: why we aren’t all dead of food poisoning?

    Your FFN reference reminded me of the Chuck Palanhiuk book “Fight Club.” In an epilog, Chuck wrote several people approached him about the shenanigans going on in the restaurant industry.

    Incidentally, I worked in a bakery in high school — alas not baking, but cleaning up. I’d swear those guys spent all day tossing flour, fruit mush and icing all over the room. I was too young/naive/uncynical to expect more sinister antics.

  5. I could have told you that Jim. Sometimes it doesnt pay to be frugual. When I was driving from Seattle to Atlanta, I was not going to stay in some cheap motel. I also learned that eating the “convience” store hot food was a mistake on Day 2 of my journey. More stops than I care to do that day…

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