Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Not-So-Friendly Skies

A quick note to say: what is going on with airline food today?

I didn't take my first flight until I was nearly twenty years old. By then my expectations had reached mammoth heights, and I spent weeks before my trip imagining the glories of air travel. Turns out there isn't a single glamourous thing about winging your way from one coast to another, and the least glamourous thing seems to be the food. I mean, honestly, what's going on? Bankruptcy, for one, meaning that United (and other airlines, I'm sure) now make you pay for boxes of snacks with kicky names like "The Jumpstart" which contains a whole bevy of overprocessed, under-vitamined, overpackaged garbage.

But I think there's a bigger problem here. The setting: a boardroom somewhere. The players: Airline execs in power suits. The lunch served in meeting: Vitamin water, anemic cookies, wrap sandwiches. The subject: what food translates well to the friendly skies.

In a situation like this, the only meals you would expect them to dream up are salisbury steak and vegetarian meals that consist only of fruit and bottled water. In my fantasy I imagine that once Alice Waters finishes her worthy crusade against shitty school lunches (www.edibleschoolyard.org) she wields her influence against the good people at the FAA, demanding that they improve the quality of plane food. Unfortunately, unlike the school lunch initiative, there's no government funding for our inflight dinner, so I suspect my fantasy will remain just that.

In the meantime, I encourage savvy jetsetters to pack their own bento boxes filled with fresh and delicious treats, guaranteed to make those sitting near you very, very jealous.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Truly the problem with "fast" food today, is that the faster it gets, the more processed it becomes and complicated to make. Its a hard habit to break, witness the lines at the fast food chains in the airport. Entering my early thirties I purchased Giuliano Bugialli's Foods of Italy, an oversized beauty of a cookbook, rich with pictures of mouth watering foods and descriptions of specific foods and regions in Italy. The recipes were simple, most requiring just a few ingredients, and for me the light bulb went on. Eat it when its fresh, eat it when its local, prepare it in a simple way, if its kind of expensive. EAT LESS!So on those airline meals, my fantasy would be fruit, almost every part of the country grows some, nuts (not just those peanuts but almonds from Caly and pecans from the South and Texas, walnuts and while we're at it fly us some macadamias from Hawaii now and then, bread (really good bread, every major city in the US has some artisanal or regional bread), cheese (really good cheese made in just about every region in our great country). When they are all done gathering and contracting with all the wonderful businesses in the US trying to make a go of it, back in the commissary kitchens they can concentrate on hiring some great soup makers! Now to me that sounds like home at 30,000 feet up.