Plane food has a bad reputation. Cabin pressure makes preparing fresh food (and thus good tasting food) a challenge. Airlines have been only too quick to remind us of this in the past. Blame has been directed at 30,000 feet of altitude (which numbs our sense of taste) and the necessary but dry, recycled air that further hampers our taste buds. Both valid points but hardly the whole story.
Airlines have got pretty creative in finding ways to better store food in a tin can that hurtles through through the air at 500 miles per hour. Nowadays meals are generally frozen on the ground and defrosted on the move. High levels of salt and sugar have been used to stimulate our blunted taste buds.
But it’s not all bad. The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ has never been felt more keenly and as more of us demand a better standard of food, the market has had to adjust. Read on to discover some of Netflights’ favourite airlines to dine on.
Singapore Airlines has gone to costly lengths to impress customers with their airplane meals. Eight celebrity chefs, including Suzanne Goin, create in-flight meals that reflect the destinations Singapore fly to as well as the chef’s own experiences. What’s more, menus are now published on the website in the build up to the departure date; a small perk but one sure to please any passenger. Spicy Asian food naturally has highly concentrated flavours, so the noodle soups and red curries are a good choice.
This airline puts strong emphasis on fresh food and rightly so. Seasonal ingredients go a long way to bringing freshness of food to the airplane seat and at least one western style course to accommodate picky eaters. Taiwanese airline EVA Air even go to extra lengths around the Chinese New Year, serving traditional dishes like egg fried rice. The drinks menu is popular too featuring the popular Bombay Sapphire gin and Smirnoff vodka. Drink enough of that stuff and it won’t matter what the food tastes like.
Only in an environment hostile to good tasting food could British food make it in the top five. It evens out the playing field. On a British Airways flight, things kick off with a pretzel and welcome drink and are followed by a four course meal that includes a cheese and biscuit course. A big fuss is beingmade about the bottled water (not sealed cup) and Magnum ice-creams. Alcoholic drinks are still complimentary. Score. For longer flights there is also a hot breakfast. All this is courtesy of a multi-million pound investment.
Four words: ‘Food prepared fresh daily’. Even the meat dishes which tend to be bland (protein dries out easily) are rated highly on flights with Turkish Airlines. Real silverware might sound like it would have little impact. After all it’s just a means of getting the food from a to b, right? Well it seems cultivating a genuine dining experience goes a long way; the Turkish outfit has won a stream of awards for its food. The chef’s hat worn by the server might be a step too far though.
SWISS have nailed their food offering. The meals designed by Hiltl (a vegetarian eatery going since 1898) are knock out. With no concern of vegetables drying out the way meat does, there’s less need to drown dishes in sauce to keep them hot and moist. The pasta with aubergine fricassee is stand out. Ingredients are well conceived like the whole-wheat penne that has more nutrients and is less bloating than its refined white counterpart. The Tête de Moine semi-hard cheese invented by monks 800 years ago isn’t so healthy. But man it’s good.