In a culinary landscape ruled by nuggets, fries, and burgers my old man began regretting his decision to request the children’s meal for me during our journey to the motherland. He had come so far in grooming my palate to realize there was a world – a tastier world – beyond processed meats and oil-soaked potato sticks.
On the flip side, he also realized it was a 19-hour trip in cramped quarters to the Philippines with no easy resolution for a hungry and cranky TodFoo. In this case, a children’s meal was a necessary evil. A safety net, if you will. A keeper of all things sane for him and mom dukes.
What we failed to consider, however, was that we were flying All Nippon Airlines. An Asian airline. Asia. Where eastern food culture differs for the better from that of the west. Where freedom fries are replaced by jasmine rice and mystery meats are dismissed in favor of fresher fare.
So here I was. Face to face with my parent’s “worst nightmare”. Yet, there they were. Smiling and rejoicing. Eager to try a bite of my “dreaded” children’s meal. Three months of worry alleviated in the blink of an eye. For out came tempura shrimp with teriyaki broccoli and a side of fresh greens and a cherry tomato. And breakfast? Rigatoni in a carbonara sauce.
For everything the airline industry has done to demonize themselves in the eyes of the public there has been, at the very least, a marked improvement in their food. They’ve hired professional chefs (some with celebrity status) to create their menus. Every pain-staking detail has been considered, for instance, how our senses are affected in a pressurized atmosphere. It’s the one saving grace in the era of smaller seat pitches and premiums on everything.
So, thank you, ANA for pleasantly surprising my taste buds. You’ve given new meaning to the term “happy meal” for me.