I tell you about the exotic food markets, the amazing restaurants experiences and personal moments of culinary genius that all happen on my travels around the globe. But we never talk about the rather significant amount of time that I am assigned to a very small chair some 35,000 ft in the air, while I am reaching all these destinations. Why is that? Angry flight attendants, neighbors who reak of garlic & BO, the curry fueled farts on the flight from Delhi to NY – you don’t find these things terribly interesting?! I have actually decided there is an entire blog here dedicated to life in the sky. I am afraid to even calculate the amount of time in my life of which I have been screaming across the skies in a big tin can.
However to stay on theme, I want to share with you some of the fine culinary moments I have seen come across my tray table. Does it make a difference which airline you fly for the quality of food? Hell Yes. Does it really change that much from economy to business to first class? Hell Yes. Its basically the difference of The French Laundry to Macaroni Grill to a school cafeteria as you make your way down the plane.
Best food flight of my life was 1st Class D.C. to Capetown S.A. The steak was so good I was sure that there was a butcher in the cargo hold. The vegetables fresh and cooked al dente straight from the cockpit garden? Fine wines, a cheese cart that was surely imported from Paris that morning and decadent Belgian chocolates with frothy cappuccinos. I cannot provide picture of this meal – because I was too busy eating it!
It’s all down hill from there.
This was pulverized cucumber with tomato flecks, onion and mayo on a “bread” that was something of naan crossed with baguette. The best part is how soggy it was.
Here we have a balance meal of “chicken” pasta salad appetizer with more “chicken” in lemon sauce (aka oil slick) with boiled to death beans and sweet potato served with more boiled white potatoes. Earlier in the day I had flown from Bali to Singapore and the EXACT same lunch was delivered to my ever hopeful tray table. Oh goodie airplane food de ja vu!
And what culinary greatness was served for breakfast, I repeat breakfast, while flying to Ho Chi Minh on Vietnam Airlines? Why pork belly, white rice of course! How about that donut like cupcake like cream puff thing. Yikes.
In India you get two choices – Veg or Non Veg. The choice between serious mystery meat and serious curry gas for the next 24.
In China you get two choices – “beef” with noodle or “chicken” with rice both in a brown gravy that is partially curdled.
In Thailand you get fish! Now that is novel. However it is as bland as the chicken and has that same quality of being manufactured meat.
In first class, you get all things that you left behind 5000 miles ago.
Here it is! The rarely experienced moment of a tray table meal that is actual food. Foie Gras on fresh greens with steamed asparagus. Wow! A real fork, not a plastic spork. Linen napkin not a drinks cocktail napkin damp from your diet fanta. This was just the starter. Again, too excited to be eating it to take pics after this.
So, they aren’t so friendly those skies. There are some real challenges that cross your tray table for the 16 hrs from NY to Delhi or HK. On a recent flight the attendant handed me a tray without asking which I wanted – beef with pasta or chicken with rice. I asked her which she was giving me. She looked at me rather blankly and said, “Does it really matter?” No joke.
Got any good airplane tray table dinner stories or experiences? What is the worst /best you have had?
I will post more on food at 35K ft through the Fall as my travel ramps back up. But for now, as they say in the friendly skies – Bu Bye now Bu Bye.