During a recent evening ride on public transit I became suddenly aware of the aroma of baked chicken. Though one of the automated audio messages broadcast on CTA(Chicago Transit Authority) buses and trains addresses a rule against consuming food/drinks while riding, I sometimes observe my fellow riders ingesting various edibles. I will admit having done so on certain occasions (i.e., the occasional granola bar; an errant Milky Way). However, this post will address the most blatant, flagrant, and aromatic violations I have observed, not withstanding those I personally committed. Anyway, back to the aforementioned delicious smelling chicken. The gentleman enjoying the baked chicken thigh had the uncommon social grace to offer chicken to other passengers, though he was speaking with his mouth full. He never elaborated as to whether he was offering a bite of the very thigh on which he was munching-a burning question. Maybe he would have provided a separate chicken part artfully hidden on his person. Unfortunately, my curiosity was not satisfied because no one accepted his offer. Maybe I should have partaken-how would that really have been much different from the many times I’ve bought food from vendors at street fairs? In contrast to chicken, sausage is also a popular offering amongst the CTA menu of entrees. In another blog post I described the scenario of bratwurst being graciously offered on a CTA bus to a rider in response to his solicitation of others for food money. Brats make more practical sense for diners on the go given they likely constitute a less greasy option to manage than chicken.
The beverages I’ve observed being enjoyed while on transit have been pop, water, juice, beer (only once), and coffee/tea(most popular). Given the frequency with which I’ve seen coffee drinks being imbibed, I’d surmise that having paid a premium for a beverage can give one a feeling of privilege or a sense of carte blanche to write your own rules. A case in point, the man I saw with the beer was particularly brazen in that he unapologetically cracked open his can of beer during a lively, humorous conversation with a fellow rider he just met. Every CTA rider, and potential diner, should keep in mind that the CTA neither serves alcohol, nor is a BYOB eatery. In my own small data set personally observed, imbibing caffeinated beverages seems the most frequent way CTA riders break the no-food/drink rule.
In the interest of bringing this topic to a close, I propose that the CTA consider offering a prix fixe menu of appetizers, maybe tapas. This could likely be manageable and still meet the gastronomic needs of hungry travelers. Who says haute cuisine has to be served by a chef? Why not let a CTA employee with food service certification utilize those skills? The selections could be Chicago-themed. For example, Capone crullers, Navy Pier nachos, or even Daley dogs. To make this proposition a more appetizing (excuse the pun) undertaking for the CTA, and feasible, the CTA may want to limit its offerings to only cold beverages and appetizers. For example, they could offer Danish style open-faced sandwiches. Any ideas out there?