I love travelling but one of the biggest issues I have with long-haul flights is the food.
Not because it’s unpleasant or unidentifiable – to the contrary, I think airline food has improved massively over the years – it’s the choice.
As a non-meat eater I usually opt for the vegetarian option. But it’s not that simple.
Do you want the straight vegetarian meal or the lacto-ovo version which includes eggs and dairy produce such as milk and cheese?
Usually I would opt for the latter but I’m always disappointed.
You never get the nice looking desserts, or the little chocolates, real milk or the cheese and biscuits.
Why? I’ve clearly indicated I can eat those things!
But no, you usually get a fresh fruit salad as an entrée – which consists of different lumps of melon, two pieces of pineapple and a grape (yes, just the one).
A rather boring salad and if you’re lucky another bowl of fruit (identical to the first) as dessert.
Now while salad and fruit are good for you, believe me there’s only so many bowls of melon you can eat on one flight.
As for the main meal well it’s usually brown – most likely with overcooked veggies in a tomato sauce – pasta or rice and something, you have no idea what it is. And that’s just breakfast!
All of this can have only one outcome (I’ll spare you the details) and that’s not good on a long-haul flight.
So when it came to confirming our recent flights overseas imagine my surprise when I saw the long list of special meals offered by Emirates.
Twenty-two different options listed under the categories of religious, medical or dietary and others.
Suddenly I had so much choice. There was Asian vegetarian, vegetarian Jain meal, the usual lacto-ovo option along with a straight vegetarian meal (read vegan), vegetarian oriental and a raw vegetable meal. Wow.
There were also choices of gluten free, low fat, non-lactose, diabetic, low calorie the list went on and on, it was amazing.
One choice caught my eye for the wrong reasons though: a bland meal. It doesn’t sound very appetising does it?
Bland Meal: This meal is available for those who suffer from disorders of the stomach and /or the digestive tract. It contains one or more of these ingredients: mashed potatoes, fresh spinach, soft-boiled eggs, boiled meats, toast, milk, and dairy products. It does NOT contain baked or fried food, garlic, onions, or spices.
Almost certainly designed to not have the effect of my usual vegetarian meal!
But to my surprise and delight there was also the option of a seafood meal:
This meal is for passengers who prefer seafood, mainly fish and shellfish. It does not contain any meat products.
Bingo! It was perfect as that is what I am – a non-meat eater (red or white). It’s often easier to describe yourself as vegetarian but that’s not strictly what I am.
There are a few labels given to non-meat but fish eaters – most often pescetarian, I have heard aquatarian (and there are probably many others that are unprintable), but you never see these listed as real food options or dietary requirements.
I was stoked.
And I have to say, overall I was really pleased with the food we received. There were a few bowls of fruit and salad but I also got the yummy looking puddings and chocolates.
At last the old joke came back to life – a real seafood diet where I was able to see my food and eat it!
Odd though – I still didn’t get the cheese and biscuits.
PS: Another advantage of having a special meal is you get the food first, so when everyone else is eating you can use the toilets at ease without having to queue! Ah the joys of travel…