Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Dreaded Conference Meal

I was at an industry conference this week. It was hosted by a very well known institution, with very experienced food services, in a large (for this part of the world) and food worthy city. And the food was amazing- in a disturbing way. It was exactly what I dread eating for affairs like these- mass purchased food that tastes like it.

The appetizer was four cold shrimp (out of the freezer?) over a wine glass with a dob of mayonnaise (Kraft?) ; the main entree of plain over-cooked chicken breast was rubbery; the squirt of sweet potato (in June?) was crusty; the perspiring chocolate cup of lemon mousse was overly sweet. To top it all off the centerpiece arrangement of fresh mixed flowers were stuck into a green cube of sponge so sparsely, that we could see almost as mush sponge as flowers (see, the hostess rules of might have helped here). And everyone at the table had that look on their face that said they mustn't complain or let themselves make a joke because it would be rude. But of course, eventually the joke came because you couldn't help but laugh when you couldn't readily cut the chicken...

I know that mass food preparation must be difficult because you can't possibly satisfy the tastes and whims of so many people. And I know that there will always be restrictions (the client's wshes, the budget, etc.). And I'm a food snob anyway. But I also know that most people seem to dread this sort of affair because the food usually isn't great- you never go for the food. But why? Is good food really that much more expensive? Dreading the meal is never a good way to entice registrants or ticket sales, and it's certainly not the way you want to be remembered.

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