There are loads of good reasons to look forward to a holiday. Maybe you’re excited about an exhilarating change of pace, or maybe you just want some time to yourself on a warm beach with a cocktail and a good book. Either way, it’s usually the destination that piques the interest. One thing that most of us would say we are categorically unenthusiastic about is the actual journey itself.
This hasn’t stopped one of the world’s biggest airlines from releasing a celebration of one of the most maligned aspects of aviation. Whether you’re young or old, a frequent or first-time flier, absolutely no one gets excited about the prospect of eating plane food. Too many memories of vomit-inducing, steamy beige punnets of mysterious goop have ruined too many holidays for anyone who has taste buds to relish 12 hours on any flight. Nonetheless, United Airlines have decided that it’s high time we all learned how to cook this creamy slop in the comfort of our own kitchens. Bon appetit!
At first glance, the idea that what most of us think of as “plane food” actually has a recipe, rather than being cobbled together from whatever can be scraped off the pans of airport restaurants just prior to takeoff, is laughable. However, the surprising truth is that flying food has come along way in the last few years. No longer are passengers presented with the sloppy leavings from junior chefs. There are actual trained adults in charge.
Many of the world’s premier airlines now employ teams of top class chefs to guarantee their customers a decent meal, and United Airlines are no exception. Now, thanks to this collaboration with The Trotter Project - an organisation that provides culinary education programmes for students across the US - anyone familiar with the airline’s more salubrious repertoire will be able to wow guests with what’s now on offer at 35,000ft.
The book features 40 recipes “inspired by” it’s business class menu, including “Avocado toast – sourdough, shrimp, tomato, capers” and “coconut soup with sambal oelek chicken.” The latter, which features prominently on the book’s front cover, has already successfully turned a few heads by managing to look much more like something you might actually want to eat than many people may have expected.
However, despite United’s best efforts, and indeed the fact that the book’s proceeds are being shared with The Trotter Project, the internet was never likely to let the new release off without a few scornful remarks. Richard Bocchinfuso made his feelings known when he tweeted, “I always wanted to know how to make that chicken and rice dog food that United serves,” accompanied with a vomit emoji. Even celebrity food fanatic Chrissy Teigen got involved - declaring the avocado toast recipe an abomination, before adding that she has a “dream of curating an airline menu”.
People who have been regular air travellers for some time will know that the standard of food has improved immeasurably since the dark days of indeterminate, plastic-wrapped mush. That being said, it’s clear from the reaction to United’s new release that the industry has a long way to go before it can truly break free from the shackles of past disasters. A new generation of airplane food lovers isn’t quite ready for takeoff just yet.