Thursday, 3 December 2009

Airline food & down under bread

The HFF blogger in chief is off to Australia next week for three weeks of camping in the wilderness and avoiding Christmas. Which isn't to say I don't like Christmas food its just that it all leads to a remarkably stretched stomach that never quite seems to recover in the New Year. Mince pies, Christmas pudding, my mum's chocolate log and a moist free range Copas turkey are all fantastic, but I think I can only cope with them all once every 3 years.

Escaping from the UK made me start to think about airline food and whether it is actually as bad as it is made out to be. In my opinion it has, in general, actually improved over the last 10 years. I wonder though if our expectations haven't also risen. We now seem to expect restaurant quality, gourmet meals, having paid a pittance to sit in a cramped flying bus. The recent trend for BA to follow the example of Easy Jet et al and only serve sandwiches on short haul, isn't actually a bad thing. In reality how often would you eat a three course meal on a bus at an unlikely time of day. Never is the answer, so why do it on a 3 hour flight to Geneva?

Long haul is a different matter. When stuck on an aeroplane for 24 hours (in my case), you need sustenance, even if just to relieve the boredom of the flight. Having been lucky enough to fly Virgin Upper Class recently I can now point out the differences between us and them. Us, the cattle class general public on the glorified flying bus, use plastic cutlery and plastic glasses. We eat plastic cheese and grey food served from a plastic tray. Them, the business class and well to do, they use glass and designer cutlery with bone china plates, one dish of fine food served at a time with a choice of fine wine and a cheese plate with port to finish.

Two questions arise, why can't Gate Gourmet produce something similar for us poor folk in row 72? And why can they use real crockery, cutlery and glassware and we get plastic? It seems that the airlines don't expect anyone paying that amount to be a terrorist while we are all suspects not to be trusted with a small fork in case we hold the whole plane to ransom.

I know airlines are going through a considerable period of cost saving so maybe the food experience is marginal for them, in which case I would prefer a well made sandwich and a glass of water, especially as I am destined to spend the rest of my life lying in row 72.

I'd be interested to hear others experiences good and bad of airline food.

While in Australia I will be camping in various National Park's so am looking forward to my Aussie friends showing me how to make a traditional damper, a traditional bread cooked on an open fire. Hot from the coals it is fantastic. There is a recipe on the rather wonderful Aussie Slang website, the website that helps you communicate with Australian's! Browsing the slang dictionary never fails to make me laugh.

Finally I ate at the Thai Orchid with friends in Henley last night. Firstly the elephant seems to have gone missing much to all our consternation. secondly am I right in thinking that the food isn't as good as it once was? Or is it just another case of expectations having risen?

I hope to update while in Oz, but Happy Christmas and looking forward to a food filled New Year. And last of all good luck to Gino d'Acampo in the jungle. One of our demonstartion chef's this year, we hope to have him back in 2010.