Now, I am from the strange group of people who actually like flying and all it entails. Sure, I have hang-ups about airports and stuff, but planes, in and of themselves, are some of my favourite things in the world.
Which brings me to airplane food. Don't side-eye me when I say that I love airplane food, ok? Maybe it's the appeal of not having been the one who has to buy the ingredients and put them together, and do the dishes afterwards – which, one can argue, is just one of the many things that is appealing about going out to restaurants as well. You don't have to cook.
You can have almost anything you want, as long as that cuisine is found in your city. You locate the place, and just show up. You can have anything on the menu that you can afford. Then you eat, pay and leave!
The plane even takes away the paying section of that process, because you've (hopefully already) paid for your ticket and so they have to be nice to you – most times.
Which is more than I can say for a lot of Nairobian restaurants – concerning service, I mean. But this isn't about service – I already covered that, and as much as I enjoy flogging that particular dead horse, I can keep it to myself for another week or three.
As with restaurants and planes, some airplane menus and food are definitely more equal than others. I have had many an unremarkable experience, although the in-flight service sometimes made it better or worse.
For example, I remember when flying with EgyptAir, the food was ok but the staff were altogether dour, which just took away from that flight for me. Needless to say, I have never flown with them again. Go figure. And then there was the time I succumbed to the cheap pricing of Ethiopian Airlines – ok, I lie, I'm always succumbing to cheaper price points – and was pleasantly surprised by the normal food and the smiling service.
For me, there are two airlines that stand head and shoulders above the rest in terms of what their menus offer. Why? The food is good, they have options, they serve with mostly a smile, and they try to give you even more, in my opinion, than you have paid for in the first place.
They tie for the top spot, simply because they both have pros and cons that I cannot not consider when tallying up their score.
First, there's Emirates. Whereas to the Middle East the tickets are cheaper, outside of that you might spend a pretty penny, which, I've always had a feeling, goes to the food.
The stewards are kind and very helpful, but that's a great bonus to a happy palate. I like that they are always trying to craft their menu according to the country they are going to – which was my experience going to the UAE, and back to Kenya, when they incorporated mukimo! into the food choices on the menu. The food is enough, and presented well, and you can always ask for more.
My second choice is Turkish Airlines. Their airport is terribly lacking – unnecessarily unfriendly, and all around unhelpful – but luckily, they don't let this deplorable habit leak onto their flights. I love that the food is always more than enough, and always with a touch of Turkey in it as well.
The quality of their food (and overnight bags) still feels like it is better than other economy classes, and of course well ahead of their competition in terms of other business classes – they have one of the best ones worldwide.
Food is very important to me where flying is concerned, because it makes what can be a long and arduous experience much better. What are some of your favourite skyward culinary selections?
Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.