Like the TV character Alan Partridge, I too have been living in a Travelodge, a low-costs cheap and cheerful chain of business flop houses scattered across the UK where sad, lonely business men spend miserable evenings alone. I have reviewed them before and to be honest they are fine if your brain can tune out the stained sheets and dirty baths. But that isn’t the subject of this piece.
For the last two months I’ve been spending two nights a week as lonely bachelor stuck in his cell listening to podcasts and eating supermarket picnic food. I used to eat out but that was so unutterably sad that I resorted to eating in my room. The alternative is to dine at Burger King every night and I don’t think my arteries could handle that.
So this is an exploration of Cuisine Partridge – the food of the poor business traveller. The rules of Cuisine Partridge are simple
- The only equipment you’re allowed is that available in your room. This is one teaspoon, a kettle and two coffee mugs.
- You have no refrigeration except for hanging a bag of groceries out of your window
- You have no heat except your wall mounted radiator
- You have to sleep in the same room as your food waste (for one night)
- Your only napkin is your bathmat
So let me begin with some basic recipes
As you stayed in the office as late as possible to avoid spending time in your room, you decide to go for the all-in-one option to minimise time awake. Open a flour tortilla and in the style of a nineteenth century Cornish pasty layer salad on the left, ham and mustard in the middle and yoghurt on the right. Roll the tortilla up like a bizarre, mutant cigar, say a small prayer and eat it.
This is a tragic combination but does have the advantage of containing a hot ingredient. Buy some Tikka flavour chicken breast and a curry pot rice. Boil the kettle and make the pot rice with a tad more water. Then tip in the cold chicken breasts. Wait until your nerve breaks and then think of happier days.
As there is nothing more boring than the inside of a Travelodge bedroom, you will be in search of entertainment. Rather than resorting to TV you can play a culinary game based on Russian Roulette. Go to your local supermarket and buy one item at random from each isle. You pick a number between one and twenty and that is the number of paces down the isle you take before you grab an item and pop it in your basket.
When back in your room, you blindfold yourself in the manner of Deer Hunter and pluck three items at random from your basket. That is supper. In a recent experiment I feasted on tinned octopus, cheesy puffs and an Angelina Jolie DVD. I’m not sure which was the most repulsive.
WARNING: Cuisine Partridge can have severe effects on your life expectancy, mental wellbeing and ability to form lasting relationships with other human beings.