Archive for the 'Airplane Food' Category

Swiss Air


These past couple of weeks have been nothing short of exhilarating. Shortly after The Astronomer and I tied the knot in late April, we packed our bags and headed to Spain to honeymoon. There are tons of delicious details that I want to share about the wedding, but it will have to wait a few months because the professional photos are currently being processed. In the meantime, let’s hop on board Swiss Air to Barcelona!


As soon as we reached cruising altitude, the flight crew busted out the “Happy Mix,” wine, and beer! The white wine’s crisp and fruity notes paired like a dream with the salty pretzels and goldfish crackers. I kid…sort of.


Even though airplane food is rarely outstanding, I always nap with one eye open to avoid missing a meal.  While on board a monotonous twelve-hour flight, the sound of the squeaky cart making its way down the aisle becomes something kind of magical.


For dinner, we were given a choice of “pasta” or “beef.”  I love how succinct mile-high meal descriptions are. I chose the pasta, which turned out to be superior to The Astronomer’s beef. The ricotta-stuffed tortellini were a smidgen overcooked, but still palatable with their accompanying red sauce and cheesy topping. The roll was impressively warm, successfully melting the frigid pat of Land O’Lakes butter. The salad was gross, as was the Sara Lee chocolate cake for dessert.


The Astronomer’s beef entree was edible, but not very exciting. However, he did appreciate that the vegetables weren’t overcooked. The best items on the tray were the mashed red potatoes and the brownie for dessert.


A couple of hours before landing in Zurich, we were served a continental breakfast consisting of a croissant, a roll, a canister of yogurt, and  juice. While Swiss Air’s croissants can’t touch the ones served on board EVA Airlines, I requested another one anyway when the cart came by for the second time. My appetite for carbs is insatiable.


After a quick layover in Zurich, The Astronomer and I boarded a second flight to Barcelona. On this leg of the journey, we were fed “Laugen Bread with Appenzeller.” The Swiss cheese sandwiches were smothered in whole grain mustard and served on bread with a pretzel-like consistency. A simple but satisfying offering.


Here’s where the real fun begins!

Continental Airlines


It’s been years since a warm meal has been set before me while flying coach in America’s friendly skies. Ever since domestic airlines eliminated hot food service in order to cut back on costs, bags of peanuts, pretzels, and crackers have been all I’ve had to look forward to during long hauls from coast to coast. Even though American mile-high meals were never nearly as tasty as their Asian counterparts, it was kind of nice having a dried-out turkey sandwich to nosh on while digging into the latest Sky Mall.


The Astronomer and I prepared for the impending food drought on our recent flight home from Alabama by picking up a three-item combo from Panda Express. We were hoping that the hefty Styrofoam box filled with greasy goodness would provide enough sustenance to get us back to the West Coast without any hunger pangs. Little did we know that while we were scarfing down fried rice, Beijing beef, and orange chicken next to our gate, in-flight dinners were being loaded onto our plane.


I was utterly shocked when a tray of food was given to me by the flight attendant during the first hour of our flight. Even though I was stuffed full of Chinese food, I was inexplicably excited to sample Continental Airline’s offerings. Well, at least some of them.

The anemic iceberg salad and its accompanying Caesar dressing were quickly passed on to The Astronomer. The leaves were a sickly pale green and the dressing contained too may foreign ingredients. The main course, “Aldo’s Gourmet Chicken Enchilada Wrap,” was served hot and steamy. I removed the enchilada from its plastic bag and laid it to rest upon a napkin to allow the excess moisture to evaporate. After the tortilla had regained its texture, I dug in.

The wrap tasted no better or worse than a frozen burrito. The exterior was thick and chewy, while the innards were mostly cheesy. The packet of Cholula hot sauce was essential for spicing up the package. Although it wasn’t great, Aldo’s Gourmet Chicken Enchilada Wrap sure beat the usual spread of peanuts, pretzels, and crackers.


For dessert, a snack-size serving of a Kit Kat bar. Thanks for trying, Continental Airlines.

26.2 Miles & Asiana Airlines

On our final morning in Beijing, The Astronomer woke up super-early to catch the men’s marathon. I was wiped out after a late evening of track and field and chose to sleep in before boarding our trans-Pacific flight. I know, I’m weak. The Astronomer caught the pack of runners at three different points along the course. Here they are around four minutes into the race. The lead pack cleared the first mile in 4:41. Insanity!

The conditions on race day were 74 degrees in the shade and 84 degrees on the course. Here are the leaders 36 kilometers into the race (six kilometers left). Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya is in first at this point, and he pulled away to win in a time of 2:06:32. What pollution?

After playing groupie, The Astronomer returned to the hotel and we got in our own (much slower) run and then headed off to the airport.

On the first leg of our flight from Beijing to Seoul, we were served beef with rice, peas and carrots. Side items included a roll, butter, potato salad, fruit salad and a tube of Korean chili paste. Although it’s hard to tell from the picture, the portion of beef seemed quite generous.  Our idea of what constitutes a proper protein portion has been forever distorted after residing in Vietnam for a year. We thought this meal was on par with the ones we’ve eaten on United and Cathay Pacific—solid airplane fare.


Before leaving us alone to watch movies and pass out on the second leg of our flight from Seoul to LAX, the stewardesses served dinner. Our choices were Korean or Western. The Astronomer and I had one of each—Korean for her and Western for him. I think it’s so wonderfully cool that Asiana serves bi bim bap on board. Imagine if Vietnam Airlines served pho. Wouldn’t that be a trip (literally and figuratively)? The bi bim bap came with a little fold-out note card instructing fliers in English, Chinese and Korean how to assemble and eat it. I saved the foldout because it was just too precious to throw away with the garbage.

The instructions advised me to add the hot rice to the beef and vegetable mixture first. Then, I squirted Korean chili paste on top. Lastly, I mixed it all together well. The instructions suggested that I eat the bi bim bap with the hot soup and the banchan (kimchi, burdock with peanuts and tiny salty dried fishes), which I did. The bi bim bap was probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten on board a plane.

The Astronomer’s Western steak and potatoes didn’t come close to matching the awesomeness of my bi bim bap. The steak was anti-tender, but The Astronomer said the sauce was good. Suuuure.  

Eight hours later (two hours before landing at LAX), we were served a final meal. I chose the crispy fried seafood, which wasn’t so crispy by the time it arrived in front of me. The soba noodles with wasabi weren’t the least bit gluey, and they actually tasted quite good! What’s cool about flying on a non-American airline is that soba noodles are considered a perfectly normal thing to serve on board. Love that!

The Astronomer went for the “bulgogi” for his final meal. It tasted exactly like the beef and rice dish we were served from Beijing to Seoul. Before we knew it, we were back on American soil. Unbelievable!

And because reader Nate inquired, here’s some ping pong action from Day 2 in Beijing. The Astronomer and I were rooting for the French dude in blue because he looked like a dad and had a little beer belly. Too bad he lost to the ultra-fit eastern European. Give the old man a break! 

Air China

After two too short days in Xi’an, The Astronomer and I packed up our bags and flew to Beijing on Air China, the country’s national carrier.

It was another painfully early flight. The two breakfast options we were given on board were “Chinese” or “Western.” We both chose Chinese to start, but I quickly changed my mind after The Astronomer opened up his entree to reveal a mysterious gray porridge.  

My Western breakfast consisted of sauteed cabbage and carrots (what part of the West eats this in the morning?), bacon, scrambled eggs atop buttery toast, pineapple cubes, apple chips, a roll, and a piece of cake. Westerners LOVE cake for breakfast.

The cabbage and carrots were the first to disappear. The eggs atop toast were a bit soggy, but still edible. The bacon was chewier than it ought to have been, but I still kinda liked it. Clearly, this girl was hungry. I gifted The Astronomer a roll and a piece of cake which he Hoovered up.

And this, my friends, is what the Chinese supposedly eat for breakfast. The Astronomer took 1.5 bites and called it quits. For some bizarre reason, the combination of stewed rice and black beans tasted like water—it was the strangest thing. We both regretted waking up from our naps to down this slop.

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