French Quarter Fest got underway in New Orleans today under sunny skies

At the Chevron Cajun/Zydeco showcase Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet was performing for an enthusiastic dancing crowd
At the Chevron Cajun/Zydeco showcase Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet was performing for an enthusiastic crowd with some people breaking out dancing to the very rhythmic music…

French Quarter Fest kicked off today in New Orleans and the weather was cooperating – a couple of days back we had hail and lots of rain with not very warm temperatures – today – none of that, just sunny skies and warm winds. FQF is a smaller festival and it is free with no ‘cover charges’ apart from for example Jazz Fest which comes a little later in April. Admittedly the FQF does not have the same magnitude of well known performers as Jazz Fest does, and this to me is part of the appeal – it is also less crowded and crazy, it’s more of a whole family celebration of good music and good food . Below are some photos from the first day.

Let me see here what is next, hmmm... there seems to be something wrong with my program - it's all sideways to me...
Let me see here what is next, hmmm… there seems to be something wrong with my program – it’s all sideways to me…
I'm hungry anyway - let's see if this thing is at least tasty to eat....
I’m hungry anyway – let’s see if this useless thing at least is tasty enough to eat….
Women like wearing stylish hats in New Orleans.
Women like wearing stylish hats in New Orleans.
Michael Doucet of Beausoleil       playing his little accordion
Michael Doucet of Beausoleil playing his little accordion and singing.
New Orleans has a cuisine that is different from the rest of the US, this girl is about to  demonstrate that...
New Orleans has a cuisine that is different from the rest of the US, this girl is about to demonstrate that…
She eats swords....
She eats swords….

 

Is United Airlines and Jeff Smisek flying too high to keep an ear to the ground?

United First Business Vegetarian (strict) Lunch in business First from Europe. It is steamed Broccoli, Carrots and some other vegetable on white rice.
United First Business Vegetarian (strict) Lunch in business First from Europe. It is steamed Broccoli, Carrots and some other vegetable on white rice  with a dab of tomato based sauce.

The trend in eating today is generally moving towards healthy alternatives and Vegetarian or even Vegan options. Many people are concerned with the effects on their bodies from over eating and eating things that may not be as good for us as we once thought. It seems to me that this is something that has totally flown by the radar unnoticed by anyone at United Airlines, and in particular the ones that are responsible for coming up with food items to be served on United flights.

The above picture is an example of just that. It was the main course for lunch on a flight from Paris (CDG) to Washington D.C. (IAD) in the beginning of January 2014. Pretty uninspiring may I say, some steamed veggies on top of white rice! Really?  Is this First Business food? It is un-inspiring, and just a sign of laziness on the side of the kitchen in any class of service. Mr. Smisek, would this meal make you a happy customer if you were a vegetarian or vegan person? Well it certainly didn’t make me very happy and I am one, vegan that is. Here is another kicker, all other meals get a fresh salad – the vegetarian meal does not have a fresh salad to go with it!  The cabin crew was very nice and managed to get me a salad and some other vegetarian food that they had to spare.  This is not my first such experience with United, and if I continue being a United customer, likely not my last unless we can stir some changes up at United.

Below is another example of the un-inspired Vegetarian food items that is served on United Airlines flights. This time it is an Economy class breakfast box on a Transatlantic flight, Newark (EWR) to Stockholm Sweden (ARN). It consists of a rock hard cold bagel in plastic, a minimalist tub of margarine, a cup of fruits in heavy syrup, and a packet of mrs. Dash (?!). I can only speculate on why the mrs. Dash is included, not something I think anyone in their right mind would put on their bagel or their syrupy fruits, it must have something to do with Mrs. Dash being salt free…

United Airlines Economy Vegetarian (strict) Breakfast February 2014
United Airlines Economy Vegetarian (strict) Breakfast February 2014

It is interesting to observe that all the regular meals have a small tray of fresh fruits included in them, but not the Vegetarian box. The standard meals also come with warm croissants.

Dinner service is not much different from the breakfast service, the standard economy class dinner meal have a fresh salad included – if you chose to order the Vegetarian special meal, there is no fresh salad but a half frozen tub of some mix of middle eastern style grains.

Maybe we need to impress on United’s responsible parties in the catering department, that being a Vegetarian generally means that you like eating fresh fruit and vegetables. In addition there are plenty of really tasty dishes that can be prepared from all plant based ingredients, pretty much the same way that one would prepare non vegetarian food – just replace the meats with plant based ingredients.

So, Mr. Smisek, what are you going to do about this? I certainly hope you will do something, let me know if you need any help. I can probably steer you to some really good Vegetarian chefs, if nothing else.

Cemetière Père Lachaise is much more than Jim Morrison & Edith Piaf

Dora was a "subcamp" of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Nazi Germany. The focus of the camp was to supply labor for digging tunnels at the V2 rocket factory as many as 20,000 of the total of 60,000 in the camp were killed.
Dora was a “subcamp” of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Nazi Germany. The focus of the camp was to supply labor for digging tunnels at the V2 rocket factory as many as 20,000 of the total of 60,000 in the camp were killed.

If you go to visit the cemetery in Paris where Jim Morrison and many other celebrities are buried, I suggest that you also take a look around in other places and you might discover some very powerful and emotional markers for people and time in history that we all need to keep in mind.

Sachsenau
Sachsenau
A memorial for the Spanish nationals that died fighting in WWI
A memorial for the Spanish nationals that died fighting in WWII

 

Ravensbruck
Ravensbruck

 

Graves
Graves
Crowds at James Douglas Morrison's final resting place
Crowds at James Douglas Morrison’s final resting place
James Douglas Morrison's final resting place
James Douglas Morrison’s final resting place
Madame "Lamboukas" Edith Pia
Madame “Lamboukas” Edith Pia

 

The British Isles are being pummeled by a powerful Christmas storm and travel is disrupted for many

This was the snow globe covering the statue of Eros in Piccadilly circus shortly before the storm destroyed the globe
This was the snow globe covering the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus shortly before the storm destroyed the globe

The British Isles has been pummeled by a Christmas storm during the last couple of days, yesterday it was the southern parts including London. Today the storm is moving north towards Scotland and Ireland. There is more rain and high winds predicted for the London area later on today. Travel was disrupted for many holiday travelers and people were stranded on trains for hours due to blockage from fallen trees and other debris.

An umbrella destroyed by the high winds
An umbrella destroyed by the high winds
Harrod's was still looking festive despite the storm, and it provided  welcome point of shelter for many - and you could pass the time by shopping or eating.
Harrod’s was still looking festive despite the storm, and it provided a welcome point of shelter for many – you could also pass the time by shopping or eating.