San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Soleil Ho is bound to be getting bored at work during this unfolding public health crisis, and/or she's going to need to get creative in what she finds to write about in her weekly columns.
To that end, this week she picked up on some Yelp reviews and personal complaints she received from former Grand Princess cruise ship passengers who spent the last two weeks quarantined in Solano County at Travis Air Force Base. As Ho writes, adding insult to injury following their COVID-19 cruise nightmare, the quarantined Californians "were subjected to 'substandard' meals of limp salad, 'processed cheese sludge' and moldy fruit" by one unfortunate Sacramento outfit called Hannibal’s Catering.
As one of the former cruise passengers, 61-year-old Modesto resident Gina Pallotta, tells the critic, "The thing that broke the camel’s back was when I had a salad that had a dead bug in it."
In a series of truly terrible Yelp reviews, others describe (and photograph!) sad meal boxes containing things like hard-boiled eggs and granola bars. Mike N. from Modesto says that dinners often feature "chunks of fatty, stringy meat," and it seems that for lunch, for 14 days straight, the company just delivered the same terrible "tasteless turkey" sandwiches on damp white bread with "slices of processed cheese sludge and the tiniest possible tubes of condiments, occasionally with salt & pepper packets," according to Suzanne S. of Los Gatos. She adds that "Breakfast is the worst," and says that with farmers' markets open, "why not acquire decent fresh produce?"
Sure, these are first-world problems but it does seem like a catering company with an unexpected federal contract could have put in a little more effort to make this seem a little less like incarceration for these people.
Pallotta, whose husband is diabetic, tells the Chronicle that the company distributed forms for people to fill out about dietary restrictions, but then never came to pick them up.
Reportedly, the barrage of bad Yelp reviews did lead to some slight improvement in the meals that started arriving to the quarantined passengers, but the message was clear — don't mess with Californians and their food, no matter the circumstances.
As Salli S. wrote on Yelp, "As a taxpayer, I think the government got snookered. Shame on this [sic] people to prepare the cheapest food possible to make the most profit possible to serve elderly people who had no control over their situation."
Thankfully, by tomorrow, all of the quarantined passengers should be released to their homes.