It’s a crisp and clear day here in Barcelona, azure blue skies hang over the Gran Via on the second day of IBTM. Not as busy as last year some are saying, possibly because the Lufthansa strike has stranded so many delegates in Frankfurt. We’ll find out later, meanwhile it’s time for lunch.
The splendid Mexican food on offer in the Media Centre has long since been snaffled up by hungry delegates, so it’s adios muchachos as we go in search of a hearty lunch that will fuel an afternoon of meetings, workshops and panel discussions. Conference goers will be familiar with the guilty lure of the on-site canteens and restaurants, always crowded, never good and absolutely never cheap.
There’s no heavenly reason to drop 23 euros on some ramen noodles and a can of coke served up in a plastic bowl, but that’s exactly what I have just done; handing over my money with a smile the same way children hand over their lunch money to the school bully. On closer inspection the watery bowl of ramen looked not only inedible but potentially life threatening, a pinch of chopped spring onions sarcastically floated around the edges while the rubbery coiled horror of the noodles lurked just below the surface. Life is too short for nasty noodles.
To be fair the can of coke did exactly what it said on the tin.
This is Barcelona, it is home to some of the planet’s best chefs, it has some of the best food in the world. Ibtm is temporarily home to some 3,000 delegates from around the world, 90 per cent of whom work in the hospitality sector. It seems a colossal waste of an opportunity; we should be up to our neck in Iberico ham and swimming in rioja. This is not your average trade fair, it’s an opportunity for Catalonia, for Spain to share the very best of its food and drink. The car park should be full of food trucks, pop-up restaurants and live cooking stations. People are on their feet for 12 hours a day; it’s exhilarating but it’s also exhausting. Vending machine fodder is nobody’s friend. Great food creates great memories.
Ibtm is amazing, but those noodles will haunt my dreams forever.