just plane food

We don’t take airplanes very often. Maybe if one does, the changes in the air travel experience are not as obvious.For us, it is kind of like seeing the holiday card photo of a family we aren’t in regular touch with--when a year goes by in between encounters, certain changes in personal style stand out.

Enough has been said elsewhere about the insults of the security process, I reckon.Let me just add that I have had a vision of the future, in which airports are full of travelers in backless hospital johnnies, because I think the fact that your backside is covered as you shuffle along being glared and yelled at is about the only remaining shred of connection to personal dignity remaining.Oh, wait.Yesterday in the airport I had a body scan.So I suppose booty coverage has already entered the departure lounge.Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A zillion years ago, back when you could take a really BIG bottle of lotion on the plane to keep your face from crackling off, there was an airline called People’s Express.They were the $99 fare pioneers, I think, and that was nice, and maybe there was some revolutionary employee ownership angle or something, but they also were the first to surrender the crazy notion that a hot meal must be served to people on airplanes.Why?Why give unhappy, confined people bad things to eat?Why make the lump of cat food so hot, and the bread so knife-shatteringly cold? Why so many tiny little dishes with plastic wrap on them? People’s Express gave you a basket with a piece of cold fried chicken, an apple and a cookie.The flight attendants could fling them out quickly, and it was a pretty close approximation of what people wanted to eat.I could appreciate that even as a vegetarian.

Despite all the little insults now inherent in getting from one coast to another in a single day, one thing has improved.If you have a briefcase full of cash with you when you clear security, you can get pretty decent food in airports now, and take it with you on the flight.My mom used to pack stupendous airplane picnics, and as long as your menu does not include a container of liquid that is larger than a thimble, you can still do that, too.Clear bags.It’s all about the clear bags.I packed a lot of sandwiches and clementines.

But I discovered a devious little workaround for that liquid regulation, and one that has merit even if your action plan is to fork over the moolah for the grab’n’go options on the jetway:

Four hours into a flight that had two hours left to go, my crispy, weary children greeted a cup of hot miso with deep delight.“It tasted like real food and kind of swept me away from being on the airplane because of that,” said one reviewer.

That’s about all the food news I can wring out of a day in the air.But now I am in California, where food rules.There’s bound to be more to say shortly.