The Smear Campaign Against Airline Food

Posted in Media

The media loves an easy target. As a member of the media, I know this all too well. In fact, I used to write a column for Bon Appetit called “The Nitpicker” where I got paid to complain about things and I’ll be the first to tell you that most of the things I complained about were easy targets: fellow diners wearing perfume, truffle oil, communal dining, and so much more.

You know what qualifies as an easy target? Airline food. It’s been the subject of stand-up comedian’s jokes since just after the Wright Bros. took flight with a pocketful of beef jerky and some breath mints. Trust me, I get it. A lot of airline food is definitely bad, especially in the United States where even the substandard stuff ups the cost of your flight $10 with each passing granola bar hummus box. It’s not such a new topic, though, that we need to be publishing stories all over the place about how and why airline food is bad. Yet, these stories keep multiplying faster than Gremlins in a hot tub.

Case in point: in the past month, two major outlets have published/posted screeds about the menace of airline food and now the problem is with us.

Just last week, the San Francisco Chronicle via their online hub SF Gate posted a story called “Why is airline food bad? It’s a plane, Einstein,” on their Travel blog “Bad Latitude.” In the article, Spud Hilton argues that food on a plane should be terrible because you’re on a plane. His ultimate suggestion: lower your standards for food while you fly and you’ll be just fine.

Barbara Peterson on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Daily Traveler” blog (who’s made a previous appearance on Fly&Dine this week!) wrote “Why Does Airline Food Taste So Bad? Turns Out, It’s All Your Fault” at the beginning of April and just like the SF Gate story, the onus falls on you the traveler because your taste buds are dulled in the air.

So now it’s not just airline food that gets targeted, it’s our inability to properly eat on an airplane and our desire to get a good quality meal at 35,000 feet. This is ridiculous. Airline food CAN be good. I write this entire blog as a testament to that fact. Right now, airlines are spending time and money to develop new menu options and with any luck, some of them will be better than good. They’ll be great.

I believe in the airline culinary industry. I just think it hasn’t hit its peak yet.

And yes, I understand the irony in complaining about the complaining about the complaining about airline food. This feedback loop is starting to get a little stale, no?

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