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Flexible dining - Requesting a review from a recent rider

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PVD

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There is another wrinkle to what we are discussing. The easiest way to have long shelf life products without refrigeration (for certain types of food) is adding more chemical stabilizers and preservatives....For the size of the salads they have today, you can use dressing packs the size of ketchup packs that are available, the ones we are used to are 2 tbs full servings (like Ken's or Newman's).
 

pennyk

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I don't intend to dissuade people who want to bring their own items for health, convenience, or preference. Everyone has their own needs and your decision to bring something should be your own. My only disagreement is with how bringing items from home is sometimes used as a catch-all solution for nearly any loss or lapse in Amtrak service standards. I don't have any (known) food allergies so if I ordered a box of single use dressing packets they would likely degrade and deteriorate before I could use most of them for the intended purpose. The vast majority of my trips involve at least one flight and when I've put condiment packets in my luggage they sometimes end up in a bad state. When a small ketchup or hot sauce packet opens inside a Ziploc bag it can generally be contained with a folded paper towel but I wouldn't trust this setup to hold a couple salad's worth of vinegar and olive oil.
Since I purchased a punch of packets when I thought I would be making three very long trips this year, and those trips were canceled, it is very possible that I will not be using those packets since they may "expire" before I take a long trip. 😥
 

Bob Dylan

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Since I purchased a punch of packets when I thought I would be making three very long trips this year, and those trips were canceled, it is very possible that I will not be using those packets since they may "expire" before I take a long trip. 😥
Better eat a lot of Salads Penny! 😄😉
 

jiml

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View attachment 17969

Here's the Pasta & Meatballs, "Penne Pasta with Tomato Sauce, meatballs, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses."

This one was the most true to form of all of them, a close second for me to the Creole Shrimp (which is to be avoided if you don't like spicy).

The pasta was maybe a little mushier than I would have liked, but the meatballs were shockingly good. The tomato sauce had a very nice flavor to it. Definitely one of the highlights, even though I'm not a pasta and meatballs fan.
That actually looks edible. Not exciting, but not trash-worthy either.
 

tim49424

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That actually looks edible. Not exciting, but not trash-worthy either.
I had it in December on the Cardinal. It was okay and probably the best of the flex meals I had. I can't eat spicy stuff so I'm limited as to what meals I can have.
 

jiml

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I had it in December on the Cardinal. It was okay and probably the best of the flex meals I had. I can't eat spicy stuff so I'm limited as to what meals I can have.
Hey, I don't eat shrimp and with the prepackaged nature of these entrees it's not like you can have it left out of the sausage bowl. Not a big spice fan either, so looking for anything that would work if I ever get to travel Amtrak again.
 

tim49424

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Hey, I don't eat shrimp and with the prepackaged nature of these entrees it's not like you can have it left out of the sausage bowl. Not a big spice fan either, so looking for anything that would work if I ever get to travel Amtrak again.
The difficult thing about the flex meals is none of them are exactly good for you. The beef is high in sodium. The Chicken for me was tough the first time I had it.....fine the second. If I ever have to eat the flex meals again, I'll probably stick with the meatballs. I don't mind eating the same thing meal after meal....I'm a creature of habit and always have my routine foods I eat in "normal" times.
 

joelkfla

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I had it in December on the Cardinal. It was okay and probably the best of the flex meals I had. I can't eat spicy stuff so I'm limited as to what meals I can have.
I prefer speecy spicy meatballs. :)
 

Ferroequinologist

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The difficult thing about the flex meals is none of them are exactly good for you. The beef is high in sodium. The Chicken for me was tough the first time I had it.....fine the second. If I ever have to eat the flex meals again, I'll probably stick with the meatballs. I don't mind eating the same thing meal after meal....I'm a creature of habit and always have my routine foods I eat in "normal" times.
I suspect ALL the options are high in sodium. Stouffers frozen dinners, for example, average around 1,000 mg which is half the daily sodium recommended for men.
 

Ferroequinologist

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I'd actually caution against that. Whereas mask compliance is basically 100% in the sleeper area and everyone is friendly, the few times I've gone to the lounge car for coffee have been unpleasant. People openly cussing in the observation car, being surly with the conductors, it was a totally different experience of what I'm used to. Just FYI, Amtrak is picking up Greyhound passengers between certain areas where Greyhound has suspended service.
On a YouTube video I saw people with their feet propped up on the Viewliner window, people dressed like bums. I remember hearing an announcement on a trip last year that passengers MUST WEAR SHOES when walking around the train! You have to tell people that! What kind of country have we become!
 

Rasputin

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On a YouTube video I saw people with their feet propped up on the Viewliner window, people dressed like bums. I remember hearing an announcement on a trip last year that passengers MUST WEAR SHOES when walking around the train! You have to tell people that! What kind of country have we become!
On the trains that I have been on the announcement to wear shoes has been part of the standard safety announcement for 10 years or so. It is nothing new. I will sometimes take off my shoes when I am in my roomette but always wear them when going out of the roomette. Many people do not wear shoes inside their home and I think it just carries over that they think they should be able to do this on the train. I don't think it is a sign of a general cultural decline.

However, belligerent, foul-mouthed drunks in the lounge car threatening to get into a fist fight with people in the presence of young children. I have encountered that and that is a sign of a general cultural decline.
 

tricia

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On the trains that I have been on the announcement to wear shoes has been part of the standard safety announcement for 10 years or so. It is nothing new. I will sometimes take off my shoes when I am in my roomette but always wear them when going out of the roomette. Many people do not wear shoes inside their home and I think it just carries over that they think they should be able to do this on the train. I don't think it is a sign of a general cultural decline.

However, belligerent, foul-mouthed drunks in the lounge car threatening to get into a fist fight with people in the presence of young children. I have encountered that and that is a sign of a general cultural decline.
If it goes unchallenged or persists it's a failure of on-board staff, particularly the conductor, who are responsible for ensuring a safe environment for all passengers, and empowered to put people off the train if they don't comply.
 

Rasputin

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If it goes unchallenged or persists it's a failure of on-board staff, particularly the conductor, who are responsible for ensuring a safe environment for all passengers, and empowered to put people off the train if they don't comply.
In that particular case, the belligerent drunks, who continued to act up after two warnings from the conductor, were put off the train at the next station where police were waiting. Not sure how long it would have continued if I had not reported the near fist fight to the LSA in the dining car who called the conductor.
 

tricia

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In that particular case, the belligerent drunks, who continued to act up after two warnings from the conductor, were put off the train at the next station where police were waiting. Not sure how long it would have continued if I had not reported the near fist fight to the LSA in the dining car who called the conductor.
Maybe this is a glass half-full vs half-empty thing, but I see your story as evidence of a functional "culture," not cultural decline: Passenger does his duty reporting bad behavior to the conductor, conductor does his/her job warning the culprits and then, when they don't take the warning, puts them off the train, thus restoring on-board civility and safety. 🙂

Isn't that how it's supposed to work? There's never been, and never will be, a society without louts.
 

Rasputin

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Maybe this is a glass half-full vs half-empty thing, but I see your story as evidence of a functional "culture," not cultural decline: Passenger does his duty reporting bad behavior to the conductor, conductor does his/her job warning the culprits and then, when they don't take the warning, puts them off the train, thus restoring on-board civility and safety. 🙂

Isn't that how it's supposed to work? There's never been, and never will be, a society without louts.
I think I have been lucky. In 50 years of traveling by long distance trains I have never encountered a situation like this. In my opinion, the conductor was far too tolerant for far too long and appeared to promptly leave the lounge car after giving his warnings, leaving other passengers to endure the resurgent belligerence. Once the conductor finally made the decision to remove these people from the train, things fortunately fell into place quite rapidly.
 
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I took the California Zephyr from Chicago to Richmond, CA over 4th of July weekend. We were actually encouraged to eat in the dining car, because that apparently will build a case for bringing back full-service dining. I did opt for the dining car for dinner 2 nights just to break up being in my roomette. They were great about social distancing, and we were all sat one booth apart. The flex meals were for the most part, fairly awful. The Asian noodle bowl was probably worse than some of the worst microwave meals i've had. Breakfast is solely continental (sugar, sugar, more sugar...no fruit available). I opted out except for coffee but I did break down and get the breakfast sandwich on my 3rd day. The Cajun shrimp/andouille was edible. For those long distance trips, where you're subject to the same 5 options on the menu for 3 days, it would be SO nice to have more options! I would've welcomed a salad. I tried to just find a sandwich in the cafe car on the 2nd day, but they had no sandwiches, no salads. I have read elsewhere on these threads that the Sleeper car prices should be reduced in lieu of the sad flex dining situation, and I agree.
 

Rasputin

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I took the California Zephyr from Chicago to Richmond, CA over 4th of July weekend.
Thanks for your report. Just curious, is the small store inside the station at Grand Jct., Colorado still operating? If so, and if they stock the right supplies their business could be really booming.
 

Nick Farr

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Thanks for your report. Just curious, is the small store inside the station at Grand Jct., Colorado still operating? If so, and if they stock the right supplies their business could be really booming.
It is. It's a stripped down convenience store that doesn't have much more than the cafe car and seems to be priced about the same.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I think I have been lucky. In 50 years of traveling by long distance trains I have never encountered a situation like this. In my opinion, the conductor was far too tolerant for far too long and appeared to promptly leave the lounge car after giving his warnings, leaving other passengers to endure the resurgent belligerence. Once the conductor finally made the decision to remove these people from the train, things fortunately fell into place quite rapidly.
I think one clear and direct warning should have been enough. At that point you can tell if they're going to take it seriously or not. As soon as it's obvious they don't care or can't control themselves it's time to go. Not sure why this conductor felt they needed two chances but glad things ended on a positive note.
 

PVD

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Lo and behold, I was preparing my online shopping list to pick up at a supermarket, and the Ken's 1.5 oz packets in a number of varieties have been added at Shoprite. Never noticed them before.
 

Bob Dylan

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Maybe this is a glass half-full vs half-empty thing, but I see your story as evidence of a functional "culture," not cultural decline: Passenger does his duty reporting bad behavior to the conductor, conductor does his/her job warning the culprits and then, when they don't take the warning, puts them off the train, thus restoring on-board civility and safety. 🙂

Isn't that how it's supposed to work? There's never been, and never will be, a society without louts.
True this, it's just that right now jerks feel free to do what they want because certain Political "Leaders" urge them on and set poor examples, along with certain Media.
 
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