Hold the Mayo

After an efflorescence of posts over the weekend, there has been rather a dearth of new content this week.    The author has  suffered a lot of early mornings and late nights, coupled with the horrors of air travel, during the week – all in the name of work.  Yes, hard though it is to believe, this blog does not yet provide sufficient (or, to be brutally frank, any) income to allow me to give up working for “the man”.

I am not a big fan of air travel – especially when it involves me.  This is partly because I am not keen on either heights or enclosed spaces – which are delivered in a rather unhappy conjunction by the modern aeroplane – but also because airlines and airports seem to have gone to some trouble to deliver a deeply unpleasant travelling experience.  I firmly believe that if the Good Lord had meant us to fly, he wouldn’t have given us the railways.

My travel was in the hands of the OneWorld Alliance which is not, as it might sound, a fascist military faction from a science-fiction novel but is a group of airlines including British Airways and Finnair among numerous others.  My tour took in Terminal 3 of London Heathrow (LHR), where they seem to have removed most of the chairs from the terminal (for reasons unknown) and replaced then with what looks like a private roller rink, Vienna (also, rather short on terminal chairs – but with particularly good systems surrounding the issuance and checking of boarding passes) and Helsinki.

Several years ago, when I moved to South Cambridgeshire, I thought that one of the potential benefits of living in the area was its proximity to Stansted Airport and the consequent easing of the pain of international business travel.  However, whenever a business trip abroad comes around it inevitably seems to involve a destination which cannot be reached directly from Stansted (or even the wonderful London City Airport) but only from LHR (my least favourite of London’s airports, with the possible exception of Luton).  From home, it is around three hours on various rail-based transport systems to LHR (which usually exceeds the airborne component of the journey by some margin).

One thing I learnt from this most recent trip is that there seems to have been a major diplomatic incident between the UK and Finland.  At both ends of my journey (and indeed on my previous trip to Finland), we passengers were not delivered to (or from) our transport from (or to) the terminal by a short walk along a pier but had to walk to the far end of the terminal building where a bus gave us a tour of the airport tarmac on our way to find our plane.  I have flown with both “flag” carriers – but this seems to make no difference, I still get the bus ride at each end of the journey.  What has William Hague said to (or about) the Finns?  I am forced to wonder if a Yorkshireman is perhaps a little too blunt to be foreign secretary?

One of the many mysteries of air travel is the terrible food on offer both on the ground and in the air.  At most UK airports, one is offered the choice of seafood washed down with champagne (why?) or Starbucks (or some clone thereof) – and other European airports seem little better (and some even worse).   Contrast this with St Pancras International railway station where Le Pain Quotidien offers the traveller delicious French (or perhaps Wallonian – but still Francophone) bakery, patisserie and salads.

In the air, you often get little more than a packet of mini-pretzels (possible the least edible of all the snack foods) or a filled roll if the airline is pushing the boat out.  On my return journey I was furnished with a prawn mayo and rocket roll – which I imagine BA thought was a luxury offering, but which I worried represented a dangerous risk of food poisoning.  As this was a UK-sourced item, it provided details of its nutritional content – including the somewhat shocking fact that it provided nearly half of my RDA of salt for the day.  This was not a huge roll, and as a bread-maker myself I know bread requires only very modest amounts of salt – added to which I’m pretty sure that rocket is also salt-free.  I will admit that prawns, whilst alive, do prefer a somewhat saline environment (well some do, including those which end up in commercially-produced rolls) – but, once dead and imprisoned within a bakery product, there seems no obvious requirement to maintain this habitat.  I am forced to assume that the mayonnaise was comprised almost exclusively of salt (though, as the sandwich also contained an alarming proportion of my saturated fat allowance for the day, I assume this salt was blended with neat lard).  Y-O-Y-O-Y?

Expanding on this rant, why do so many sandwich makers feel the urge to place mayonnaise in almost every sandwich or roll anyway?  I have made bread-based meals at home for decades, and have yet to feel the need to put mayo in any of them.  Does this explain my relatively sylph-like figure, modest blood pressure and the fact that a packet of salt lasts me from one decade to the next (I ignore the use-by date as salt is a preservative)?  If this country is serious about tackling the obesity epidemic and rising rates of hypertension, surely the easiest option would be to ban mayonnaise in pre-made sandwiches?  It would also help reduce the incidence of post-consumption greasy fingers and so, perhaps, reduce serviette usage with a consequent saving in trees.  It should also make for cheaper sandwiches (fewer ingredients) which would be much appreciated in these times of rapidly rising food prices and shrinking incomes.

I think I may have found the single-issue party I need to launch my political ambitions onto the national stage.  Remember, cast your vote for “Hold the Mayo” the next time you find yourself in a hardboard booth with a pencil in hand!  Fish for PM!  (And no, I’m not looking to replace Eddie Mair).

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5 thoughts on “Hold the Mayo

  1. matathew says:

    I am a fellow sufferer in most of the departments you mention here. Although curiously, given that my air travel is primarily for leisure rather than business, and Gatwick is my local airport, I have suffered an inverted form of the Stansted problem, whereby flights to places like Tallinn seem to use STN exclusively.

    I particularly agree with your rantings about proprietary sandwiches. I too have noticed that, with very few exceptions, they contain around 2-3g of salt per round, even the ones branded as healthy, and I have often wondered why this is. My conclusion is that supermarkets and their like must be using tasting panels consisting of typical customers who buy typical processed food (including factory-made bread) which is typically unnaturally salty. And so the tasting panel selects sandwiches which are at least as salty as the ones they bought the previous day. It is like a computer program stuck in a loop of salty bread and salty fillings.

    My proposed reforms for sandwich packs are:
    – most of the salt content and all the mayonnaise to be in separate sachets (similar to salt ‘n’ shake crisps)
    – optionally the sachets would be covered with nauseating health warnings and grotesque medical photographs
    – the range of fillings to be extended to include salad sandwiches (containing no ham, cheese, prawns, salmon, tandoori chicken, etc).

  2. Stuart Ffoulkes says:

    Talking of sandwich fillings, why can you never buy jam? Surely, the most famous of all sandwiches (well, that or the similar marmalade – if you are a fan of a west London rail terminus and its eponymous bear).

  3. Semibreve says:

    And why do all salads purchased in similar circumstances always contain peppers? Occasionally one can find a sandwich labelled “no mayo” but rarely can one find a chicken / pasta / salad type meal in a plastic pot which is not filled to the brim with capsicum. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were in chunks large enough to fish (sorry) out but they are always chopped up so small that it takes as long to sift through the mix, trying to separate cubic millimetres of tomato from similar volumes of red pepper, as it does to eat the finished product, wash the fork and find an appropriate recycling bin for the original container. Just don’t get me started on sushi packs which proudly proclaim “no raw fish” as if that were a good thing.

  4. Stuart Ffoulkes says:

    I have nothing against the humble capsicum myself – and, in fact, have just devoured some in roast form as part of a salad-style meal I had prepared earlier (I would have prepared it later, but have not yet been able to get that particular sequencing of events to work – more’s the pity!). What gets my goat (an angora, since you ask) is the obsession with raw, sliced red onion in every salad. I have nothing against onions of any hue when cooked, but when raw I find their ingestion causes unwanted side-effects within my digestive tract. As I believe methane is a potent greenhouse gas I feel it is my duty to the climate, as well as to anyone bearing a nose and sharing the space in my vicinity, to pick out the pieces of the offending member of the allium family. I then feel bad for wasting perfectly good food.

    I think you may be confusing sushi with sashimi – sushi often, but not always, contains raw fish (well, according to Mr Collins – I lacked a nearby denizen of the land of the rising sun to interrogate on this matter). I’ve had vegetarian sushi before now – largely as a response to the awful sandwiches which were the only alternative – and I think this is ok, as long as there is a substrate of rice involved. But, I am more than willing to stand (or better still sit, or best lie) corrected by any passing son (or daughter) of Nippon.

  5. Semibreve says:

    I think those who label the packages are probably confused about the difference between sushi and sashimi. To have a pack of rice rolls filled with mushed up tinned tuna (with or without mayo) or prawn (usually chopped up in a pink mayo-based lubricant) and some strips of smoked salmon labelled “sushi” is not entirely my fault. And I still have to pick out the peppers before consuming.

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