Monday, November 15, 2010

Airline Food

So you're sitting in the airport lounge and contemplating your Tums and wondering if you've enough to last you through the next seven or eight hours of cramped flying with airline food attacking your stomach walls. Dismal thoughts of days of diarrhea and gastric pains occupy you until the voice on the speakers stops asking for various passengers to please turn up immediately, and suddenly welcomes you to your flight and invites VIPs and people with kids to board now.

Your stomach lurches in fear again, as if it was to be left alone to face Voldemort on a dark night. Your seating range is called, you walk down the ramp and are greeted by the young ladies in scarlet who direct you to your seat. You definitely aren't a size zero model,, and just manage to squeeze into the seat, but the belt won't cover your artificially-protruding gut. Oh the shame of it! You clamber to your feet in search of an attendant, and ask with red face and downcast eyes if they have such a thing as a belt extender. "But of course, sir. I use one myself at times. Here you are." and the object is discreetly handed over. Score one for the service on this airline!

Take-off and you get given a little plastic goodie-bag. Wow ! - socks, blindfold and ear plugs, toothbrush and paste. Still, you remember that next comes food and drink and the stomach lurches again - all I've had on Delta recently is salty pretzels and no liquids (peanuts are suddenly too dangerous), and Southwest hasn't been much better. I got the cheapest flight from NYC to London that I could ($624 return) so who knows what'll be offered. Hard tack and weevilly biscuit, maybe!

Ah! Here come the drinks: Water, juice, half a dozen sodas, including English lemonade (like Sprite), red & white wines, scotch, vodka, gin, ... is there some mistake here? Maybe they're getting us drunk and will stage a mid-air mugging later!

And now another pair with a food trolley. "Would you like beef stew or chicken curry, sir?" It took a couple of seconds to parse that, given the environment, but I managed to ask for the curry, and the AG got the beef stew. Serious surprise. There's a cup and a container of water, a small salad (lettuce, some veg, and fruit, all very fresh) with a tasty dressing. The main course is a very reasonably-sized (and very hot!!!) foil-sealed container. The curry (more a korma, really) turns out to be very tasty indeed, great flavours, and not spicily hot in the least (the AG doesn't do spicy-hot, and lots of other people are likewise disabled).

If you bought this as a frozen instant dinner in a supermarket you'd give it about an 80% overall approval mark; compared to normal airline food in 2010 it gets about 120%! It doesn't compare with my first time across the pond ("fish or steak, sir ... and how would you like you steak, sir", along with real metal steak knives), but that airline is no more, for obvious economic reasons, and steel knives are forbidden! For today, however, it's outstanding. The beef stew was, I am reliably informed, just as good. 

On the way back the overall treatment was the same, except that it was a choice of sweet-and-sour chicken (the AG claims it as very good) or "bangers and mash", which I chose. Ever the pessimist I was expecting a pair of ratty hot dogs, but receive three nice plump savoury sausages, a good helping of tasty mash, and a generous helping of onion gravy. Excellent flavour all through.

So, if you're flying the pond, my recommendation is to fly Virgin Atlantic. The prices are good and the service and food are way beyond what you'd expect these days.

Go here! French food the easy way!

Another Version of Omlette
The Spawn wanted omlette and I was really dragging, so I chopped some spring onions (3 or 4, without most of the tails), and a good handful of sliced ham. We broke six eggs into a measuring jug, added the onion and ham, some salt and pepper, and summer savory.

We also added a couple of good handfuls of grated cheese, fresh from the freezer, and then took the stick blender and blendt the mix so well that it was entirely aerated, had turned somewhat greenish from the onions, and had about tripled in volume!

This made us two "omlettes", which were rather strange because they were really difficult to cook, 'cos the mix wouldn't flow around the pan when you pulled some back off the surface, as you do with a beaten egg mix. However, with perseverance we managed to persuade them to cook, and they turned out to be absolutely excellent on toast!

Fast Shepherd's Pie
Empty a can of diced tomatoes, some frozen green beans, and a heap each of frozen peas and corn into a big casserole dish. Fry an onion (or use onion powder, like I did, 'cos the onions were all eaten!) and mix in a pound of sausage meat (I used some "hot South Carolina" sausage) and a pound of ground beef. Cook until it's all brown and well cooked. and then add the solids to the casserole, reserving the liquid. Use Bisto (Wegman's or a British store near you) or equivalent with water to make a fair amount of gravy (at least a cup or two) in the frying pan, and add that to the casserole. Add three bay leaves and mix everything well.

Boil a kettle and make four servings of instant mash (Idahoan brand) - just follow the instructions on the tin. Smooth the spuds over the meat mix and then cook at about 350F for about 45 minutes. Serve. You'll get a very quiet table, I promise you!