Tales of the travelller – airline feasts

Criticism of airline food is the standard fare of the traveller all over the globe. We in Australia love to denigrate the dishes served up to us as we soar through the skies. Cynical and jaundiced as this may seem – perhaps even unfair – it is a habit not likely to change in the near future. Unless . . .

My proposal is to have Aussie airlines offer a free flight on Shanghai Airlines to any passenger who dares complain about in-flight meals. The Shanghai experience is a doozy. Forget tea or coffee – even green tea for that matter. Soft drinks are the standard and you can get a slurp of either SevenUp or Pepsi, perhaps even a top-up. If your tastes are more exotic . . . walk.

Having slaked your thirst, you wait in eager anticipation for the meal. When it comes, it is a revelation. It is a white plastic tray with a clear plastic top, through which you can seen several hermetically sealed packets. Nothing fresh in this lot! There’s a cake-style thing that looks like a bread roll but has the texture and consistency of eating cotton wool when you bite into it.

You set that aside and tear your way into another packet. This contains some manufactured paste congealed into two small slices that are as moist and chewy as molasses. After chewing for a few moments you would kill to actually eat molasses instead.

Then there was the dried seaweed. That was a revelation you could have done without. Another packet contained something that looked dead but gave off a suspicion that it was just waiting to get into your mouth before waking up and exploring your inner spaces. Nah. Toss that aside.

The final packet contains pistachio nuts and you almost cry out with joy at encountering something familiar and pleasing to your palate. That delight is soon dissipated as the hostess wanders by and offers you green tea. God, you’d kill for dinky-di coffee and your heart yearns for the bland dreadfulness of airline meals back home.