Let’s change gears here and embark on a jet fueled field trip 38,000 feet above the Vietnamese streets normally providing so much tasty variety. Unlike most of the western world, complimentary meals on domestic flights in Vietnam are a given on full service airlines. And I will have to say for the most part this is usually a halfway edible affair. Or is it just the combination of thin air and hunger playing sinister tricks on my tastebuds making everything a bit more palatable than otherwise warranted?
Does anyone even remember back in the day when US airlines served “meals” such as those sandwiches the size and hardness of a hockey puck? Yes, think hard and dredge up memories you thought you had long digested into oblivion. I vaguely remember the overly salty processed turkey adhering to the insides of some tasteless roll paired with a red apple bruised into mealy submission. The chosen few on longer flights had the pleasure of picking through a tin of tasteless lasagna accompanied by a piece of limp iceberg lettuce and withered cherry tomato while hurtling through the air at 550 miles per hour wedged into a space barely wider than elbows and hips.
Peeling back the tin foil lid over here is much like the eager anticipation of tearing through a Christmas present’s gift wrap. Some prove to be crappy duds like that sweater from grandma. Others like shrimp and rice noodles hit the spot on the fourth flight of the day. In any case I do appreciate a free meal that cuts through the hunger from a long day of flying.
Somewhere near Danang our purser delivered our crew meals, and I couldn’t wait to break into the warm aluminum container labeled “captain” just for me. This portion of steamed rice and fried white fish nuggets with an infusion of sour dill in the sweet batter seems such an unlikely choice for a breakfast meal served in the pointy end of my state of the art piece of aluminum tubing. Maybe it’s the novelty of eating with the best view in the house that elevates an airplane meal to such a nice diversion.
Whatever it is this fish wasn’t all that bad, especially with its hot sauce glaze. Some stir fried bok choy lining the bottom of the pan and side portions of yoghurt and fresh fruit slices somewhat cancel out the fried fish’s attack on the heart. At least that’s what I tell myself. I got to thinking what a disaster serving this mouth scorching spicy delight would be on a domestic flight in America. I can’t even imagine the drama unfolding somewhere high over Osceola, Iowa as Grandma Mavis chomped down and melted her dentures and scorched her gums with a little hot pepper. Living in a country where “bland” does not even seem to be a concept, even on an airplane, is one amazing perk indeed.