Monday, July 16, 2007

Just Plane Food

I think I am not making any bold or unique statement when I say that most folks don't enjoy flying these days. At best, air travel is a convenient way to get someplace in less time than it would take to drive there. At worst, it's an uncomfortable, dehumanizing cattle drive.

When I fly I try to re-humanize it as much as possible: I buy trashy magazines, load up my iPod with as many interesting podcasts as I can find, and most importantly, I pack really good food (and lots of it) to eat.

I provision these trips as if if I were off trekking for the next week or so. The new restrictions on liquids, lotions and gels do make it a little harder: can't pack your own beverages (a frozen juice box makes a great cold pack), no yogurt, no PB&J (what has this world come to?). I can still pack a pretty happy flight-time lunchbox, however.

This was to be a long flight (over 6 hours) and had the potential for delays (thunderstorms). In this case I packed one large meal and a generously-portioned snack.

Cocktail hour
Jumbo roasted cashews
Glenlivet on the rocks (purchased on board)

Roasted vegetable and prosciutto sandwich on baguette: parsley butter, roasted eggplant and red pepper, prosciutto, lettuce
Carrot and cabbage slaw with lime-mint vinaigrette
Terra chips (on board snack)
Twin Fin 2003 Cabernet (purchased on board)

Rainer cherries (those pretty yellow and red ones)
World Peace Cookies

Eating this spread occupied me for the better part of an hour (not to mention making my seatmates really jealous).

About an hour before landing I ate my:

Big pre-landing snack
Cheese and crackers
Dried cherries

A couple rules for on-board dining:

  • DO NOT PACK SMELLY FOOD. No matter how good that stinky cheese, kim chee, or smoked fish looks, you will make no friends fast if you stink up the cabin.
  • Pack neat food. Soup is a bad idea. Anything too drippy is also pretty unwise. Remember, if you hit turbulence you may end up wearing whatever you pack.
  • Pack food that can hold without refrigeration: vegetable and cold cut sandwiches, bean or vegetable salads in acidic dressings, firm cheeses and crackers are all great.
  • Bring something for your seatmates. They are probably eating a really stale sandwich from Cibo Express, so make friends if you can. I usually pack extra dessert in preparation for sharing.


this little mainyacha said...

you can bring food to the planes now?

Sunday Cook said...

Yes, you can bring your own food if you follow the TSA rules (in the US - overseas check what your departure country's restrictions are (probably similar to the TSA)).

In general this means: no liquids (soups) and no gels or jellies (no PB&J, no dips, no hummus, no pudding).

I will usually pack one or some of the following: a sandwich or wrap, a salad (tabouli, cole slaw, potato salad, etc.), hard cheese (cheddar, gouda, etc.), cold cuts (like hard salami), crackers, and cookies or brownies.

You also don't want anything you have to cut; bite-sized is best.

The hardest part about carrying on your own stuff is keeping it cold. You can't use gel-packs to keep things cool. So it's best to prepare items that can hold well at room temp.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the TSA regulations do NOT say that you may not have liquids. A more accurate "general" rule would be "just about any liquid you like... as long as it's less than 3.4oz." Here are their rules regarding liquids in carry-on baggage:

According to TSA, it is perfectly acceptable to bring things like PB&J, hummus or pudding - as long as the amount of the container is 3.4oz (100mL) or less.

Yogurt or pudding cups, SMALL amounts of hummus or dips are ideal for plane travel.

As for soup... well, who wants to eat a measily 3.4oz of soup?

Sunday Cook said...

Hello, new commenter. When I wrote this post in 2007 you could not bring *any* gel-like substance on board. Since then, the restrictions have been loosened a lot and you're right, you can bring yogurt, hummus, etc. on board.

The only recommendation I'd make about bringing those items on board is to make sure the package they're in is labeled with the ounces in some way. I have had an agent discard an item because they thought it "looked like" it was over the limit and wasn't labeled otherwise. Quite frustrating.

It will be interesting to see what if any impact recent events will have on this reg. It's my understanding that the incendiary device that guy used had a liquid component.

Thanks for coming by and happy traveling.

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