The staff restaurant in Caterer Towers is offering Morroccan lamb and Hungarian pork chops today.
Some wag from around the office has ringed the two dishes on a copy of the menu pinned up in the lift, and scribbled “food miles!!” next to them. Evidently, they thought the dishes had been sourced from North Africa and Eastern Europe, rather than merely drawing inspiration from the regions’ respective cuisines.
I mention this, because it’s symptomatic of the customer’s growing knowledge – or in this case perceived knowledge – about food and the issues surrounding its provision. The days when lunchers and diners got what they were given and were glad of it are long gone. Now, customers want to know which gradient of the Po Valley the balsamic vinegar on their salad was created from, and whether their basmati rice is of the Pusa or Ranbir variety.
As if that weren’t headache enough, they are increasingly aware of ethical issues such as food miles and organic crops.
Who’d be a professional caterer?