Airplane food. It's a gamble. Every time I look down at the little foil wrapped container I feel my anxieties rise and I can't help but wonder what my bowels will be doing in the next few hours. Lets face it, we all know we are not going to be expecting anything remotely near restaurant quality food. Its the tuck-shop of the sky. The food will be inevitably reheated and chalky. Mmmmm chalk....
If your fortunate enough to be sitting a few rows back, take a good look at what the plebs in front are eating. Trust your nose! I once made a very good call against eating a very suss looking salmonella chicken on Thai airlines. Unfortunately another in our party took the gamble and spent the next three days in the care of medical professionals. The Beef Rendang was acceptable, but it did give my jaw a bit of a work out.
In an effort to improve standards, many airlines are contracting well known chefs to design their menu, Qantas has Neil Perry and Virgin has Luke Mangan (whoever the hell that is). Note I said 'design' not cook. These chefs are being paid huge amounts, to concoct rotating menus that will inevitably be cooked in huge batches by 'qualified chefs' who have lost all faith in humanity. In all fairness I think the quality has improved, from crap to mildly crappy followed by a delightful TimTam or cookie, it's the little things. But someone does need to tell Luke Mangan what the difference is between tomato relish and Heinz ketchup.
Most airline carriers, or at least the majority that I have recently flown with, meals are listed as an add on at the time of booking. This really freaks me out, I hate choosing food weeks or months prior to the event. The old schnozz is totally obsolete and how the hell am I suppose to know what I'm going to feel like eating?
So before you spin that wheel, weigh up the odds. Consider who you are flying with and where you are departing from. If flying long haul, it likely the carrier is restocking from the place of departure. For us, that is usually departing Australia, which means I can relax my sphincter a little. Tight! Relax... If your departing from anywhere in southeast Asia, the odds are stacked against you. Avoid chicken and fish, unless you want a salmonella party in your stomach, then be my guest. Be wary of sandwiches, you have no idea how long that ham and cheese has been fermenting in its little plastic wrapper for. Anything with salad runs the risks of e-coli. Say yes to spaghetti, lasagne and alike. Rice is usually acceptable too. It will most like taste like its been cooked in a small canteen by a chain smoking lunch lady named Gladys. But hey, it's sphincter vs palate.
Side note. The first time I ate lasagne (and enjoyed it) was when I was 15 on a first class flight out of Langkawi. Fifteen you say! Yes, I was a tomato hater. Anything that had tomato in it or came in contact with a tomato was a huge no-no for me. And before you get all uppity with your "laa-dee-da first class" let me just clarify that we were booked for cattle class. After a series of delays and ridiculous queues at check in, we were upgraded A: because the flight was over booked; and B: because the attendant took one look at my Dads fuming-about-to-turn-into-the-hulk face. So I ate lasagne and drank cappuccinos, because that's what rich people do. The plebs in the back had to be content with peanuts (remember those days?) and watered down orange juice.
For me, the worst meal in the sky is always breakfast. Over the years I've had a medley of burnt coffee, lumpy yoghurt (ehm... Qantas), cardboard bacon (surprise surprise...Qantas), rubbery scrambled eggs (everybody now), and toast that you could bolt to the wall and use as a bookshelf.
Of course, if your like me and you believe all hope is lost, the ship is going down, abort, abort, ABORT (I hope your not reading this on a plane. If you are, take deep breaths... TIGHT, RELAX), just plan ahead and bring something on board for your journey. Be smart about it kids, it may need to survive delays, temperature fluctuation and being sat on.
And finally, just a little tip for the dehydrated amongst us. If you can find an attendant, ask for a hot cup of water about hour before landing. If you can get it with a slice of ginger or lemon, then that's a huge bonus. The hot water aids circulations and will get rid of that sweaty rumpled look on your noggin. Citrus is a good stimulant and ginger is great for nausea. And ladies, avoid foundation, unless you want to look you have a fine coating of furniture polish on your face. If you work for Qantas, then slather away!