Sunday, August 24, 2008

American Airlines, Pay Attention

I recently read a piece in the New York Times about the changes in airline food. We all know the story by now: It used to be good, now it sucks. One of the readers posted a comment in which he reminisced about being called the night before a long flight and asked if he would prefer lobster or steak for his meal. Can you imagine?

So I'm not saying that Turkish Air gave me lobster, but check out this meal they gave us on a flight that was only three and a half hours long (from Istanbul to Amsterdam):

That's fresh feta, cucumber, and tomatoes, a honey-soaked cake with real whipped cream, a salad with a dressing packet containing nothing but extra virgin olive oil and lemon (!), a warm roll, and roasted eggplant, zucchini, and carrots beside the kofte (sort of like flat meatballs) that were so good we could smell them long before we could see them.

We were ravenous, and every part of the meal was delicious. And just now, Michael and I were discussing which was our favorite meal in Turkey, and I nominated this one.

Tomorrow we fly home on Delta. How will their meal compare, I wonder?


JM said...

Update: Delta tried, God bless 'em. And they gave us a lot of food. But none of it was good. Except for the ice cream. That was really good.

And they got us home in one piece. Which really, come to think of it, is all I actually needed them to do.

jajamama said...

Please be patient with the Americans--they are under great constraints. First of all the food must be packed hours before take off, then it must not be perishable, finally it cannot be ethnic, or spicy, or seasonal. Peanuts used to be great, but now they kill people with allergies--what's an airline to do?

JM said...

Yes, it's the lack of preservatives in the foods we ate in both Turkey and Holland that really got my attention.

I think it has a lot to do with distribution: We no longer have the neighborhood dairy or bakery, and everything's become corporatized, so even if Safeway says they make their own bread every day, they're actually making it from a mix sent in by the head office, and it's all got to have lots of preservatives if it's going to be able to be delivered to everywhere in between Boise and Brooklyn and still be edible.

The salad dressing packet on Turkish Air contained extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. That was it. The package of Thousand Island dressing on Delta contained more ingredients than I can count (or pronounce).

And the peanut thing--don't get me started on that. Harper's did a great analysis of it, and surprise, surprise, while some people are genuinely sensitive to even small amounts of it, the lethality of the allergy is far less severe than the current outbreak of fear warrants.

I was on a flight once and the flight attendant was going down the aisle, passing out bags of peanuts. She got to the row ahead of me and there was a boy there, maybe 11, who said, "No thank you, I'm allergic."

He was calm, but she wasn't. "You're allergic? How allergic? Very allergic?"

And then she went into full alert, taking away all the peanuts she'd passed out so far (and not giving any to hungry me) and clucking over the disaster that could have been.

She chided the boy and his parent about not alerting the airline in advance, and told a horror story about a child who had died from someone opening a packet of peanuts at the entire other end of the plane.