It must have been a joke, because the airline meal I am served between Sydney and San Francisco could not have been made seriously. Worse than a joke, actually, considering I paid almost two and a half thousand dollars for a meal that cost mere cents to make. I will think long and hard about sharing my hard earned dollars with United Airlines again.
So poor was the meal, that, and apologies to those less fortunate than I—those for whom food in any form is a privilege, the 854 million people in the world officially defined as hungry, for whom a plate of food a day is the exception rather than rule—this airline meal deserves an award, not of the notable kind, and definitely a mention, of the dishonourable kind.
Frozen peas and corn—admitably defrosted via microwave—but it would be less than correct to say that taste was lost in the cooking, for taste never even made it onto the plate. A sweet and sour sauce—enough to be noticed but not actually tasted—and steamed white rice with neither the flavour nor texture of rice, and the seemingly impossible is achieved: an almost flavourless foodstuff made completely so.
I could move on to the salad, but I didn’t—the cellophane wrapped tray of lettuce, lettuce and lettuce really didn’t qualify—eleven slivers of grated carrot and some leaves of lettuce is a garnish, not a salad.
It is true that the athletic figure of my youth remains in my youth still, thus this golden opportunity to return past to the present—a sudden starvation diet—should not cause so much distaste. I savour a solitary buttered bread roll and the idea of having a ‘figure’ once more.
The in-flight snack served later wasn’t so bad—in comparison to the meal it was so good—an apple, tomato and cucumber roll and plain salted crisps—although lacto ovo in this case is literal, not translated; yet in summary, a poetic moment to finish a flight that in so many ways never really took off, and in another way is bringing me back to earth—somewhere over the mid-Pacific, my overhead seat light goes out.
Halfway between Sydney and San Francisco on United Flight 870, I am sitting in the dark…