It occurred to me, writing this as I hurtle across the Atlantic in a huge steel tube at some ridiculously fast speed, that I don’t think I’ve ever read a review of airline food. Well, not in the same breath as a review of a restaurant anyway. OK, this isn’t quite Gordon Ramsay despite the best efforts of most airlines to tout an “Executive Chef” (and possibly also a Sommelier), neither of whom you’ve heard of. Maybe Qantas and Neil Perry may be a slight exception to that, but you get my point. And so I find myself on that culinary barge, also known as an American airline. I’ve flown on many nation’s fleets over the years but it has to be the American ones that have more than their fair share of ubiquities when it comes to reflecting a nation that, frankly, only thinks the word “constraint’ relates to child seats.
Clearly, even before food is served, there is the catalogue (sorry, should be catalog for this piece) of guests / diners / passengers who struggle to get the tray table to line up in front of them. I suspect i may have seen a John Candy movie along these lines at some point. Maybe they should design tables such that, if you can’t actually get it in front of you, it loses stability to actually prevent food from being placed on it. Now that’s a constraint I think many would welcome.
The food itself tends to have the usual lexicon that most non-Amercians have tuned (not pronounced ‘tooed’ BTW – see below) into by now but still cause foodies to squirm before the soup arrives. American-only substitutions is one (arugula, cilantro), the unfathomable nod towards a vague sense of being healthy with the “salad course” (not sure the French would even know when to eat that one) and then there’s the eternal I-pronounce-it-differently-than-you-except-I-can-fully-understand-how-you-pronounce-it-and-what-you-mean-so-why-can’t-you-understand-me problem (tomato, water, tuna).
Anyway, on the plus side I have to admit that in the case of Delta, whose company I share today, their food is remarkably good. Onion soup that is hot, not tepid, and actually has onions in it; fillet steak that is properly medium rare and has some flavour and a cheese board that, trust me, was actually rather good. The other upside to flying on a US airline is that everything turns up while you’re still working out what movie to watch or why your seat massager came on during take-off and is now attracting glares from the old couple who think you’ve hidden a bomb in your pocket. I mean, the Yanks KNOW how do do service. Compared with BA that I flew with only a few weeks ago, it is the difference between Harvester (BA) and a reasonable, albeit low-end bistro (Slug and Lettuce but not in anywhere dodgy).
I am also, in case you hadn’t guessed, on my way to the US for the umpteenth time so I expect to have more to report back on of a culinary nature. In the meantime, sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience of Barbie’s mum serving you Claret (pronounced “cla-ray’).