In which I explore a pressing question about vegetarian airline food: Why?
Why do airline caterers seem to think that vegetarians don’t want flavor? Why do they think we don’t want real food? I mean, we all know they’re sadists, but still.
I was on the plane to Seoul. All around me was the delicious smell of bibimbap, a Korean dish of rice, vegetables, and meat. I couldn’t wait to try my own little veggie-only bibimbap.
Instead, for the umpteenth time on an airplane, I received a square portion of white rice bordered by four rectangles of steamed vegetables. No sauce or anything. Is that really appealing to anyone? Anyone?
To be fair, at least this time one veggie had flavoring: the artichokes. So if I ate a little bit of artichoke every couple of bites, it had flavor. I couldn’t face the steamed carrots, however. I’ve never understood why you’d cook carrots when raw ones are so sweet and crunchy. But I digress.
Wouldn’t it be easier to give me and other vegetarians the same thing as everyone else, just without the meat on top? Same for breakfast. Everyone else got a nice-looking Korean rice porridge with a few toppings. While I didn’t mind my odd but decent mushroom-asparagus stew with potatoes, some porridge would have been a great breakfast. On the plus side, I’m now motivated to make sure I try more kinds of Korean food during my time in Seoul.
Here’s the amazing thing about my flight, though:
I was in business class.
It was an amazing experience.
First of all, the service:
When we were sitting at the gate, while the ground crew did all their loading and checking and so on, we were offered glasses (actual glasses) of refreshing fruit juice.
After takeoff, they brought around more juice. Then hot towels (one of my favorite things in the world). Then dinner (see above). More hot towels before breakfast, after we all woke up and rubbed the sleep from our eyes. They even put down little tablecloths (traycloths?) before giving us the tray of food.
The pinnacle of business class is the seat. The armrest has a remote control. It’s like a big recliner, but with a seat belt. I can lean back, put up the footrest, and really, deeply, recline. There’s so much leg room that when the seat is upright, I can’t touch the seat in front of me (and I’m pretty tall).
I slept for six hours straight. I think the only other time I’ve slept that well on a plane was when I was coming down with the worst illness of my life (a nasty bronchitis and sinusitis double-header, so to speak). The sleep last night was delightful. I now understand why people are so willing to give up their hard-earned money and airline miles to upgrade their tickets.
Oh, and the bathrooms are better, too. Every time I went, they’d folded the end of the toilet paper into an aesthetically pleasing little square. They’ve got little pumps of moisturizer and aftershave. Plus razors (don’t try shaving during turbulence). And adorable little toothbrushes with the tiniest tubes of toothpaste I’ve ever seen.
Usually, when the pilot or flight attendant or dorky plane video tells me to enjoy my flight, I snort and feel bitter. But now? I’m actually enjoying my flight. When else do I get hours of quiet time in a comfy recliner with books and my laptop and have people bring me food?
Excuse me while I climb over my neighbor to get to the bathroom….