BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 02 NOV 2011


Being away can be a pain. The travel, the waiting, the wrong turns and the missed connections all take their toll. Getting all the way to your room and the electronic key not working - as happened today - really puts my gas at a peep. But there is one thing that can have me in a tailspin more than anything else: choosing badly where you have dinner. When away, your dinner along with being allowed to leave the bathroom in a mess, is the big compensation. It has many possibilities and can make your evening a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

Tonight I’m in Zurich and I’m nicely hungry: there was a small sponge on my pillow that I scoffed ten minutes before leaving the room…it took the edge off and ensured I would make rational decisions while out. And there’s lots of choice, with half a dozen places I can walk to in addition to the hotel bar and restaurant. But I’m not stumping up a tenner for a bowl of olives, and over fifty quid for my main course.

The sponge has bought me quarter of an hour. The strategy is: look at them all, eliminate immediately if possible, narrow to three maximum…choose. Being decisive is never an issue; regret after the feast can be.

The Italian kitchen, posh art gallery cum bistro, chocolate shop selling sandwiches and Burger King are quickly eliminated. As is the other local-looking gaff, which I think might be good for tomorrow. I walk through the shopping mall and there are a few uninspiring outlets, though the ice cream shop is noted, again for tomorrow. I’m getting back tonight for Arsenal v Marseille on telly and still have to find a channel.

It looks like a place called Hong Kong, an Asian you-pick-it-and-we’ll-cook-it-quickly place is where my stomach is leading me. It’s busy, which is good, and the food will come quickly, which is essential tonight.

I go in and there are a few stations. I choose one, which turns out to be the Indian stop and not what I was expecting. But it all looks good so I am interested. I consider my options: is there a Thai curry to be had elsewhere? Chow Mein, maybe? Some spare ribs, perhaps? The server is waiting, ladled-up. He’s putting some pressure on. There are people waiting. This is a fast food establishment, after all. At this point I use my years of training in being single-minded and assertive, so am not prepared to be rushed, even though people behind me are talking about curry in German and I’m struggling to think straight in English. My server is Asian, speaking English, in a German accent. There are French people to my right. My blood-sugars lurch in the wrong direction. He points at the Tali; three curries with all the trimmings. I smile enthusiastically, having ruled out in quick succession the Tandoori, the Tikka and the long thin sausage of indeterminate mince. Go for it wee man, I nod, instantly reflecting that there are few enough people on the planet I can genuinely call wee man.

We’re there, but not so fast Scotty, my white-suited server implies. Because now I have to choose three curries from half a dozen on the hot-plate. Hmmmmm. After much pointing and grunting in a language that spans the continents, it’s a veggie, a lamb and a chicken curry with rice, poppadom and nan. Topped off with coriander on all three. I am now in curry heaven as coriander is catnip to me.

Feeling quite smug since I also point at a bottle of amber coloured liquid and whisper “affffpppppffellll…” while bizarrely motioning with a glass to my mouth. Perfect, it was all perfect. So it’s a thumbs-up tonight. And now I’m watching Arsenal on a French channel, playing as only they can. Beautifully, but not scoring.

It’s a wonderful world…


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about the author

Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.

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