Thursday, May 6, 2010

Plane Fare, Part I

We took our first trip to Europe in 1979. We sat in the very back of the plane and ate whatever was put down before us. In those far off days, you received more-or-less real food on little trays. Not top of the line, but we were headed for Paris and a meal at the Michelin three star rated Lasserre. (They have dropped a star in the ensuing 31 years, but still look pretty good! ) We dined with a group of food professionals and it was truly a joyful eating experience of a lifetime.

In 1983 we were off to Paris for the second time, celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary. By now Ed had accumulated enough frequent flyer miles from business travel that we could upgrade to first class. As we were waiting for the rest of the plane to board, the flight attendants came around offering water, juice and California sparkling wine (never call that “Champagne”—no matter how good it is, true Champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France.) After we leveled off for the night flight, the food service began. A very nice cart was wheeled down the wide aisle. We were offered smoked salmon and caviar and the real Champagne in real Champagne flutes (tall narrow glasses). At this point, I raised my glass to Ed, smiled sweetly and said, “You can fly on business just as much as you like…as long as I get to fly first class every now and then!”

I love to travel. And while I love first class, I can be happy in the “back of the bus”. However, food on airlines has changed (understatement here!) and while international first class is still pretty good, and domestic first class is still more-or-less real food, coach food is now a collection of junk food—some claiming to be “healthy” junk food : are those salty pita chips really any healthier than potato chips?
And you have to pay for it. Almost all of the “packages” have gluten, too much sodium and too many carbohydrates. I tend to avoid eating foods that I could not reproduce at home and/or with ingredients I cannot pronounce.

So I pack a lunch. I do treat myself well: gluten free crackers and a high quality pate or thin slices of homemade meatloaf is one of my favorites. For return trips I find a good grocery store and get good cheese (not too smelly, out of kindness to fellow passengers!) I’ve also packed chunks or slices of chicken; slices of ham and that ancient travel standby: hard boiled eggs. I take lots of veggies or a kind of Greek salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and celery. A little fruit and chocolate is a good simple dessert. Depending on time of day, and whether or not I’m driving after we land, I might have a glass of wine. For early flights I take my favorite teabags and just ask for hot water.

I went here for packaging:


  1. Katy I enjoy your blog greatly. You hit the nail on the head about how the food on the airlines is something of the past. I agree with the lack of choices for snacks whether you are gluten free or not. Junk food is not a snack. Maybe we could overhaul airline food. Looking forward to your next post.

  2. These are all great ideas, especially about having a spouse that earns first class status. But the part about taking your own tea sounded a familiar bell. Now that I can't drink coffee, I drink a lot of strong black tea, and typically provided tea bags when I travel are.. well, they're just not my cup of tea (sorry). We have begun to bring along a few bags of our own tea now, too. My personal favorite, in case anyone's interested, is Prince Charles blend from Murchies in Vancouver.