Commonwealth Games: Glasgow cuisine a non-starter

The main dining area at the athletes' village. Picture: John Linton
The main dining area at the athletes' village. Picture: John Linton
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THE world may have been enthralled by the dancing Tunnock’s teacakes at the opening ceremony at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

But now the honeymoon period is over, and complaints have been made about the standard of Scottish food – by athletes and their entourages alike.

There has been grumbling this week from competitors who have not been happy with conditions in Glasgow, with Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, reported as saying that the Games were “a bit shit” – which he later denied.

It has now become clear that one of the main gripes is grub. Jamaican 100-metre gold medal-
winner Kemar Bailey-Cole, whose training partner Bolt claimed to have survived on chicken nuggets at the Beijing Olympics, has been the most high-profile food critic.

Asked what he thought about the food on offer in Glasgow compared with that at London 2012 Olympic Games, Bailey-Cole said: “London was really different food. It was way better than this. Scottish food could do with some more seasoning.”

Olive McNaughton, a Jamaican press attaché, was also reported to have said that many of the Jamaican athletes were not happy with the food in the 
athletes’ village.

Food in Jamaica is often given “added bite” with Jamaican jerk seasoning containing ingredients such as allspice (pimento berry), garlic, scotch bonnet peppers, green onions, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme and pepper.

The comments from the Jamaican camp echoed those made earlier in the week by the Indian chef de mission, Raj Singh, who said his team was “not getting the variety of food which suited us” and claimed that conditions in Glasgow were inferior to those in Delhi, where the Games were held four years ago.

Ironically, the 2010 Games in Delhi were heavily criticised at the time because of the conditions in the athletes’ village.

But yesterday the standard of fare in the Glasgow 2014 village was defended by diners and 

In the village’s large main dining room, there are a number of stations serving different cuisines. Only one is British, with a menu which includes meat, fish, potatoes and vegetables.

Pasta and pizza are always available from another station, and there is also a wide selection of Asian food. There is “no difficulty” in getting spicy food at every meal, said one observer.

There is also a more informal food court with a barbecue area, salad bar and a smoothie bar, which was described yesterday as being “rammed” at meal-times. Special dietary needs are also catered for.

Away from the village, athletes’ lounges at competition venues offer a choice of salad, sandwiches, fruit and drinks – something that is standard at major sports events worldwide.

According to one member of Team Scotland who also stayed in the village at the last Games in Delhi four years ago, it is easy to find something to your liking. He said: “I wouldn’t say there was any more or less choice than in Delhi. It feels about the same.”

Katriona Bush, head of communications with Team Scotland, last night said there had been no complaints from Scottish athletes.

And Craig Lear, general manager for catering at Glasgow 2014, said athletes were being offered a wide range of meals.

He said: “The athletes’ village offers a variety of healthy food and good Scottish produce with a wide range of choices.

“Of 40 hot dishes available at each meal period, at least 24 are vegetable-based, not including our handmade pizzas, plus the cold deli items. Scotland has some of the best natural produce in the world.”