How to Travel with a Salmon

UmbertoecosalmonUmberto Eco at The Paris Review (1994):

My recent journey was brief: one day in Stockholm and three in London. In Stockholm, taking advantage of a free hour, I bought a smoked salmon, an enormous one, dirt cheap. It was carefully packaged in plastic, but I was told that, if I was traveling, I would be well-advised to keep it refrigerated. Just try.

Happily, in London, my publisher made me a reservation in a deluxe hotel, a room provided with minibar. But on arriving at the hotel, I have the impression of entering a foreign legation in Peking during the Boxer rebellion.

Whole families are camping out in the lobby; travelers wrapped in blankets are sleeping amid their luggage. I question the staff, all of them Indians, except for a few Malayans, and I am told that just yesterday, in this grand hotel, a computerized system was installed and, before all the kinks could be eliminated, it broke down for two hours. There was no way of telling which rooms were occupied or which were free. I would have to wait.

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