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Plain Plain Plane Food – YUK!

August 18, 2014

My gluten free meal c/- Thai airways. At least there was live cucumber!

My gluten-free meal c/- Thai airways. At least there was live cucumber!

I have always loved airplanes. As a kid I was always enthralled by the excitement of the aircraft, the “sophistication” of the crew, visiting the pilot in the cockpit and the “toy” food.  The first flight that I can remember was at the age of 11 when my family flew to Singapore and my younger brother threw up during the entire 9 hour flight! Must have been the food! You don’t see so many people suffering motion sickness on planes anymore. I wonder whether those people are pre-medicated now or that flying is such a common occurrence these days, our bodies are used to it.

As an adult I am still enthralled by plane travel; the wonderment of a 300 ton vehicle at 40,000 feet and the idea of travelling to distant exotic places in a matter of hours still amazes me. But nowadays the journey is a bit tedious. Seating space is economically driven, people are less tolerant and respectful of others and the travel crew are overworked and under-appreciated. But the worst part is the food! Much aligned, like hospital food (that’s something else I just don’t get), plane food is DREADFUL!

My Hindu vegetarian meal c/- Qantas

My Hindu vegetarian meal c/- Qantas

I understand that the mass production, the space limitations and the health & safety aspects have to impact the constitution of the meals, but I just don’t understand how the quality can be so poor! I mean, who taste-tests this stuff? Does anyone really enjoy plane food or do they eat it just because it’s put in front of them? I’m impressed by the availability of special meals to cater for religious, health, or dietary restrictions on airlines and I’m working my way down the list out of curiosity! I have tried Vegetarian Jain, Diabetic, Fruit only, Gluten-free, Hindu, Kosher, Low-calorie, Muslim, Dairy-free, Raw vegetarian, Asian vegetarian & Western vegetarian meals. Out of these, you guessed it, the fruit only meal was the best, but as expected, not all fresh!!

I am yet to try a Bland/Soft meal, Low cholesterol meal, Low sodium meal, Muslim meal or  a Seafood meal –  I wonder what to expect?!

My Asian vegetarian meal c/- Qantas. The blueberries were a hit!

My Asian vegetarian meal c/- Qantas. The blueberries were a hit! Note: the margarine!

So it is now normal practice for us to pack our meals when travelling by air. After all, this is the start of a holiday and holidays are meant for eating! So on our outward journey I will take a cool pack with a mixed salad, cold chicken, avocado, dried fruit, nuts, boiled eggs, chocolate, protein balls, and of course, cake. Authorities will allow small cans of tuna through but I usually mix my tuna into my salad if I am going to take it.  And it does help to pre peel your boiled eggs.

During meal service, I accept a meal tray, check out the offering, laugh and bypass it to use the cutlery/cups for my own food. I am often peered over by envious passengers and crew alike when Mark & I chow down to our “take-away” meal!

My healthy plane food

My healthy plane food

When travelling, I always carry my own bread and snacks and have never encountered any problems at my destination immigration. I make and freeze a gluten-free bread or fruit loaf and pack it in my case. Naturally it will have defrosted at my destination but it will last for a week in the fridge at the hotel. Sometimes, I do the same with flatbread too. If travelling overseas, I always go to the “something to declare” queue and tell them that I have gluten-free bread and/or dried fruit in my case and I am always waived through. I’m guessing that because Australia has such tight customs regulations, taking stuff out of the country is not such a risk.

Now don’t think for a minute that I travel overseas so I can just eat my own food!! Far from it! Eating local food is at the top of my vacation priority. But bread and dried fruit is a luxury for me and not something that I eat regularly, so I let loose on holidays! The cinnamon scent of my toasted fig loaf drew crowds at the breakfast buffet one holiday in Fiji, with other guests asking “where did you get that bread from on the buffet?!” Even my husband (who used to scoff at me taking my own bread), asks to share mine after seeing the plasticky fluffy stuff often on offer!

To prepare for the flight home, I pocket a couple of boiled eggs at breakfast so I can take them in my carry-on bag. I pack fresh fruit and nuts and that is usually enough after a week or so of indulgent eating….. Then I mentally prepare for the obligatory post holiday detox!!


Conversely, this Shinkansen meal in Japan tasted as good as it looked.

Conversely, this Shinkansen (bullet train) meal in Japan tasted as good as it looked.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2014 9:50 pm

    Have you ever ordered food that you were charged for? It’s a thousand times better!!! Knowing that they obviously CAN serve tasteful food in an airplane (Germany to USA) makes it even worse. Do they really have poor quality and taste on purpose?! I always enjoy the dessert though. 😉

    • August 21, 2014 10:17 am

      No, I havent. The only food that you get charged for on flights here is on the no-frills airlines that dont have a food service. This food is all packet stuff…

      • August 22, 2014 4:26 pm

        Sure it’s still not freshly mad for you, but I found out that they taste a lot better! On one flight from Frankfurt to Detroit, the flight attendant asked me if I wanted an extra sandwich, without charging, because they would throw them away otherwise after arrival. So I gave it a try and it was pretty good, compared to the “lunch” they had served a few hours before.

  2. crescentmoonramblings permalink
    August 19, 2014 2:41 am

    Oh, the joys of plane food. When travelling as a gluten free, lactose free vegetarian there aren’t too many options with plane food. You can only order a combination of two but not three dietary requirements. There is often some small salad and fruit that is edible. I laugh as I pass my croissant, bread roll or sweet flour based treat to my husband.

    On particularly long haul flights we have been hungry and found meals are not served regulalry due to time zones etc so we have taken to packing snacks. I’ve always been too timid to pack actual meals. You might just have convinced me this is okay to do. Thanks Sarah.

    • August 21, 2014 10:18 am

      Hahaha, Shannyn. Now even Mark declines the cold rolls, soggy croissants and sweet treats! I end up offereing them to surrounding passengers!!

      • crescentmoonramblings permalink
        August 21, 2014 6:40 pm

        🙂 lol

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