In the bad old days, when I had a day job, I only used to get to go racing two or three times a month. In those dark days I did not pay too much attention to the food offerings at the racecourses - just grabbing a quick something on the hoof, as it were.
Now I go racing on a full time basis I am starting to look at the food more seriously. Most weeks I am racing two or three times a week, sometimes every day. The trouble is the food offerings at racecourses tend not to be the healthiest and when the racing trip involves significant travelling then I look to the racecourse for provision of my primary sustenance.
I lost my passion for burgers several years ago. It was a “road to Damascus” style conversion as I used to be a great fan of these ubiquitous patties. I then discovered a transatlantic flight I was to travel on did not have an individual entertainment system. So it was a quick trip to the airport bookshop where I picked up a copy of Fast Food Nation. For those of you not familiar with the book, it is an investigation to what goes into the fare served at fast food restaurants. Let me just say it was sobering reading and I have never eaten a shop bought burger since that day. The only burgers I eat now are home made, with steak I have minced myself.
Why mention the book – well, almost without exception, the staple offering at most courses is the ubiquitous burger van. Offering burgers or hot dogs, served with fried onions and processed cheese. The next most popular offering is fish and chips, lovely deep fried food.
Sadly at too many courses that is about the limit of what is on offer.
At the next level there are courses with café style outlets. The standard of these outlets are variable, however very few offer healthy eating options. There are plenty of bangers and mash and pies but very few salads and if there is a choice between frying and grilling you can get odds-on on the former. Some offer roast dinners which are OK once in a while but on a daily basis that will not help the old waistline.
A few courses have some pasta offerings, which is getting nearer to the healthy side of things. However the number of courses offering genuinely healthy eating options can be counted on one hand.
At the top end are the more formal restaurants, found at almost every course. Now these do tend to have the more healthy options, however nice as these facilities are they are not too much use for a regular racegoer.
Firstly they are expensive and secondly from a racing point of view being confined to a restaurant means you cannot really really appreciate a days racing. Rushing to the parade ring then going to watch the race in between eating a three course meal is not really practical.
So my plea to racecourse caterers is please provide some decent healthy eating options for the ‘normal’ racegoers. It will save me having to resort to taking a packed lunch with me like a schoolchild.
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