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Hand-selected, sustainable, prestigious, free-range ... but Virgin’s food is still inedible

[30 May 2013] Having just returned from Sicily, where the food seems almost universally simple, tasty, filling and wholesome though lacking ‘awards’ from this or that organization, your dining correspondent recently had the misfortune to take a snack with Virgin Trains. Despite the perky little menu card with the poncey title ‘Provenance’ and a list of supposed awards as long as the waiter’s arm, the food was dire.

As you too read the ‘Provenance’ menu card, below, you may find yourself ticking off those bullshit buzzwords we all know and love: sustainable, prestigious, uncompromising, approved, commitment, recognition, innovative, and concept:

‘Our award-winning First Class food is hand-selected [by human hand, we hope] from our choice of suppliers for taste, quality and sustainability, so you can be sure that only the best makes it onboard. We’re uncompromising in our commitment to using free range poultry, eggs, outdoor-reared meat and sustainable fish stocks approved by the Marine Conservation Society. This has led to recognition by Compassion in World Farming who have awarded us their prestigious Good Egg, Good Chicken and Good Pig Awards, from the RSPCA with their Good Business Award and recently we were presented with the MIDAS Award for Travel for our innovative menu concept.’

Only one question remains. If all these awards are real, why is the food still so obnoxious? Take your own sandwiches, is my advice.

Talking of misleading menus, the Sunday Times reports that holidaymaker Owen Durray discovered an unusual dish being offered at a restaurant in Poland – a starter of ‘cervical cancer’. For the equivalent of about £5, the restaurant in Poznan offered ‘cervical cancer served on beetroot carpaccio with mustard-honey dip’. The restaurant explained that the dish was meant to be crayfish and said: ‘We will be having a word with our translator.’

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