Discover: The Hamperling
A fast feast for real adventures: travel food, redefined
Since Fortnum's assembled its first hamper way back in the late 1730s, the speed of travel has increased hugely. But one decidedly negative side-effect of that exponential quickening is the equal and opposite fall in the standard of travel food.
After all, our famous wickers were initially created with the express intention of being eaten during long-haul holiday voyages, with anything which survived the journey devoured upon arrival.
But somewhere in the intervening centuries - as slow coach trips and even slower ocean crossings have given way to far-faster air travel - the business of eating while travelling has been over-looked.
Until now, that is.
The Hamperling is the younger sibling of our original wicker: gourmet food to be enjoyed in transit, and an antidote to the less-than-stellar standard of adventure-ready food.
It has been called 'the fanciest in-flight meal of all time'.
In the spirit of adventure, we stopped by our store in Heathrow's T5, en route to foreign climes, and stocked up with our maiden Hamperling. How, we wondered, would our fellow travellers react, when we let loose our little eau de nil package, laiden with Fortnum's goodies?
We had an inkling that there might be a few curious looks. A few admiring ones too, from nearby passengers unhappy with the sorry state of their airline-provided grub.
Our prediction was spot on - The Hamperling certainly turned more than a few heads. By way of comparison, we cast an eye over what everyone else was served, and spotted the obligatory almost-frozen bread roll, complete with paltry accompanying sachet of butter.
What would the travellers of the 1730s, who set off from Piccadilly with Fortnum's hampers stuffed to bursting with gourmet goodies, have thought of those, we wondered. Precious little, most likely.
By the time we touched down at our destination, it was as though we had journeyed not just over land and sea, but back in time, back to a moment when travel was not just a means to an end, but a leisurely and enjoyable activity, best enjoyed in conjunction with a portable feast of no little size.
Which is exactly what The Hamperling is. It is an evolution of our famous wicker for modern travel. Next time business or pleasure calls you away, stop in at Fortnum's in T5 (and make sure to visit our bar, too) and pick one up; you'll discover that eating on the move has not tasted so good since, well, the 1730s.