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Plane Food, Plain Indeed

August 09, 2013

Plane Food, Plain Indeed

How many of you can remember Mum’s cry of “Dinner!” that would ring around the house, interrupting your favourite cartoon and causing a mini stampede of hungry kids? In our house, this call to action would spark a massive rush to the kitchen to hoover up as much food as physically possible before the other larger and more prosperous siblings could snaffle what was available for seconds. “Sit up straight and don’t slouch while you are eating; it’s not good for you” Mum would say as we fought over the ketchup bottle and protested about having to sit at the table. My sister and I would constantly moan about the fact that we were not allowed to eat dinner on our laps in the lounge while watching TV - like all of our friends did. Mum would reply with a simple retort, “Well move in with your friends then”. I never really understood this because I was convinced that none of them would want me but it was only later would I realise that this was the thousandth time she had answered the same question.

The fact of the matter was that Mum, as a community nurse, had toiled all day since 5am getting old ladies and gents out of bed, giving them a wash, making them breakfast and checking that they had all taken the correct medication. She had then raced back to take us into school before returning home to finish all of the housework. At the end of the day, she had collected us from school and then hurried to prepare dinner before having to rush back to the hospital to put all the elderly back where she had found them twelve hours earlier, in bed. Mum was shattered and underappreciated; we were the typical hungry sparrow chicks in the nest wanting as much as we could take. Her dinnertime principles were simple: freshly cooked food, eaten slowly in the correct posture, while showing each other the respect that was deserved. That is all Mum ever asked.

Our first trip abroad was to Portugal to celebrate my 7th birthday. We flew on the now defunct Dan-Air and I can remember being so excited about trying the plane food. I can’t remember what it was that we ate but I do remember being very ill on that particular holiday. We drank lots of bottled water but, like all Brits back in the early ‘80s, we completely forgot that our salads had been washed and that our drinks were filled with ice cubes made from local water. Needless to say, at 7-years-old I learnt for the first time how to lose weight sitting down. Fast forward almost 30 years and I still dread flying. The idea of flying holds a majesty of success and adventure but the reality seldom lives up to it.

On my last trip across the Atlantic I had the misfortune of sitting in front of a young toddler that decided to have a seven hour temper tantrum. I decided early on that I would engross myself into one of the in-flight films, all of which looked particularly boring but I managed to select something that had minor appeal. Much to my annoyance, the cheap excuse for a pair of headphones didn’t work at all and, after initially deafening me, the sound gradually drowned out to an almost inaudible hiss. It appeared that this flight would also be doomed. About half way through the flight, dinner was served.

I always struggle with the smell of the food on planes. It leaves me nauseous as the pasta and cheap meat is microwaved within a fraction of total cell destruction. The stewardess approached me and asked if my preference was chicken and pasta or the vegetarian option. I enquired about the vegetarian option and was politely informed that it was pasta with vegetables. Completely bamboozled by such choice, I opted for the safer vegetarian dish. I’m not a fan of drinking mid-air either. To be honest, I have a problem with doing most things in the air. Have you ever seen what happens to a packet of crisps on a long haul flight? It swells up to almost the point of bursting.

This also happens to everyone on the flight and alcohol only lubricates the issue. In this case, I plumped for a sweet white wine and the delivery was absolutely superb. The stewardess reached for the bottle, her fingertips hitting the neck and sending it face down into my lap, leaving me looking like I’d had a terrible accident. As I dried myself off and decided to give lunch a miss, I was reminded of my childhood. Here I was defying my Mum’s best advice; sitting in front of a TV, eating processed food and attempting to drink wine in the slouch position. She would not have been impressed. The interesting thing about plane food is that the average caloric value is only 388 calories, although this is mainly down to the portion size rather than the nutritional quality. So what’s the future plan? In simple terms, being placed in a compressed air canister and fired across the world’s major seas for hours on end isn’t exactly an ideal environment for human life to thrive in. We have all heard of the dangers of deep vein thrombosis and none us like the bloated feeling of wind.   At FORZA we always recommend some very simple dietary tactics when taking to the skies:  

1. Sip water throughout the flight Hydration is imperative and helps your system function correctly.

2. Eat light Don’t overeat as this will make you feel even more bloated.

3. Walk around Never stay still for more than a couple of hours at a time.

4. Moisturise Even if you’re a real man, you should protect your skin. You wouldn’t sit in the sun without sunscreen, don’t dehydrate on your flight.