Food Porn: Pie in the Sky.


Two flight conditions in the cockpit combine to produce an interesting result: boredom and hunger. The natural remedy is something to eat, which in turn is also something to do. Kills two birds with one stone.

Boredom, however, can extend to the food as well, as many passengers who fly the same routes often begin to notice. Since pilots fly the same flight segments sometimes for the whole month, the same entree does become a little monotonous.

“Tastes just like chicken,” like rattlesnake and alligator, because it is chicken. Not that it’s all bad, because sometimes there are items that you can’t refuse even though you probably should. But again, there’s the aspect of “something to do” that overrides that aspect of caloric discipline. I mean, there flight might be four hours, maybe five. What are we going to do?

I’ll tell you what: you’re going to stuff this into your pie-hole (where else would it go?) and not think twice afterwards. Pie in the sky is not to be questioned but, it is never a given. It kind of shows up here and there, but normally, the longer the flight the better the chance of running across some version.

Now, a side note to all of my flight attendant friends who groan and say, “Ewww, you eat that stuff?” Let me just say, don’t “ewww” me: we see you in the galley stuffing all of it, especially sundaes, into your faces, standing up, of course, and wiping your hands on the galley curtains. If there’s any “eww” factor–you get credit for an equal dose.

Meanwhile, speaking of stuffing face, here’s the rare and exotic flying lemon cream with crumb topping, normally seen on transcons, but it has been spotted enroute to Seattle lately:

There are circumstances, however, when you might want to pass on the full tray and just go for the bookends, appetizer and dessert:

That would be on the occasion where you knew that there was decent food at your next stop, like my all-time favorite in the San Francisco International Terminal: Tyler Florence’s Carry-Out inside Napa Grocery. The best deal going (literally, carry-out) is his side-special:

My three favorite sides are his famous macaroni-and-cheese (you’ve probably seen him make it on Food TV), grilled asparagus, and potato salad. That’s going to get you through a couple thousand air miles with no chance of hunger pangs.

For the quick-turn, there’s nothing better than a quick “Big Dawg” in Santa Ana’s John Wayne Orange County airport:

And speaking of dogs, I never pass up “Good Dog-Bad Dog” in the Portland Airport–no matter what hour of the day. Here’s a breed of dog you might not have ever considered, but it’s perfect, and perfectly portable: the breakfast dog, topped with scrambled eggs and sauteed onions:

Going for a little lighter fare? One of my all-time favorites is Matasuki in the Washington-Reagan Airport in DC, where the shrimp dumplings and miso soup will take the chill off of a day at altitude:

And speaking of noodles, the best on the planet are in Seattle at The Noodle Shop, a small Vietnamese kitchen with huge flavor:

Takes the damp chill off of a Pacific Northwest day in nothing flat.,

And finally, for those big jobs, like from New York to Seattle, there is the Weapon of Mass Destruction, the Hot Pastrami and Provolone Hero from the LaGarbage Employee Deli:

Afterward, you will not be hungry until somewhere over the Dakotas, at the earliest, and that slight hunger pang can be dispatched quickly with something small, like the cherry cheesecake:

Then once you’re safely on the ground in Seattle and finally at the hotel, there’s bound to be room for a bowl of clam chowder across the street at Roasters:

Go ahead, enjoy–you have at least twelve hours off after that long inbound flight. As I said, this is not only about hunger, it’s something to do as well. Never mind nutrition–that’s for a life at sea level. If you’re going to fly, you’re going to have to eat–it’s kind of the tradition in the airline pilot ranks.

Spicy tofu carry-out at O'Hare will set your hair on fire.

Well, there you have it: flying and food, a natural combination. Actually, there’s so much more food strategically located at airports around the country and whether you’re in the cockpit or the cabin, your mission ought to be to stay calorized in flight. Judging by the food offerings at airports coast-to-coast, I can tell you that if you find yourself hungry at 35,000 feet–it’s really your own fault.

Bon Apetit, and may god have mercy on whoever has to sit next to you, cockpit, cabin–or anywhere else.

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18 Responses to “Food Porn: Pie in the Sky.”

  1. Funny stuff Christo but a few of the dishes kind of made my stomach queasy. Glad to see that you showed the glass of white wine and prefaced it with, “When safely on the ground”. PS: I thought they called them subs in NY and not “Hero’s”.

    • “On the ground . . . ;” duh–glad you pointed that out anyway. And on the menu, it’s the “pastrami hero,” close cousin of the “meatball hero.” But what do they know?

  2. Joel Genung Says:

    Ohhhh, the choices these days! In my airport era at ORD in the 70’s, the only viable (and affordable option for a ticket agent making $3.10 an hour) was the Carson Pirie Scott hot dog. My belief was they were made in a city across the Mexican border and trucked in overland, arriving for consumption roughly 12 days after being made. Gawd, those things were terrible. Now when I travel through ORD, I am utterly amazed at the variety of good—and edible—food! And remember those hot fudge sundaes we used to get on the ORD-West Coat legs, topped with a huge clump of Cool Whip?

  3. theelectriccane Says:

    LaGarbage? What a great name!!
    I live in Asia so fill up on the tasty street food before boarding the plane.

  4. Oh Gawd…you should preface this post with the warning…Don’t read while on an empty stomach…*tummy growling*

    I loooooved the food porn, Chris. Now I have to go back and actually read your post! πŸ˜‰

  5. LOL! The “gut bomb” video was kinda like…uh…gonzo food porn!

    You almost got ranch dressing on your pilot’s hat! πŸ™‚

    I think you needed more than a mint after that! Lord help the people flying with you that day!

    Thanks for the laugh!

  6. Cedarglen Says:

    Hilarious and I can ‘taste’ all of the pix. I’ll secretly confess to wanting all, savve perhaps the “Breakfast Dog,” at GD/BD-PDX. Something about scambled egg and ‘kraut does not quite work. Otherwise, what’s with the meals and instruments? I thought that crew meals went out with cattle-class feedings. And yup, we’ve seen your double portion of shrimp before, boldly claiming that the FO did not eat shellfish. (I’m still wondering about that one.) And lastly, we now know why the FIrst Class head often stinks worse than the ones in cattle class. It is the PILOTS! Thanks for a fun post. -Craig

  7. Cedarglen Says:

    Addendum: The lead pix did not work for some unknown reason, even with a reload. All others seem to start a Pavlovian thing… -C.

  8. Reblogged this on T.

  9. I didn’t make it to the west coast very much but when in MIA, beans and rice were a “must” at La Carreta! Otherwise, the crew meals don’t look any different since I retired, though I really didn’t mind them.

    • Absolutely. I’m glad we now have a large La Carreta in the new AA terminal in MIA. I always get whatever type of Cuban pork they’re featuring for the day. Awesome!

  10. I can well understand the preoccupation with food. Flying always makes me hungry. I always booked the aircraft for mid morning so I got something to eat before flight.
    The moment I was down I felt hungry again. If visiting another strip this meant three lots of food. Strangely, in spite of this, my uniform from 30 years ago still fits.
    Could it be that fear of my own flying skills burned the calories?

  11. Note to self…….. Don’t sit near the forward lav when Manno’s flying you out of O’Hare.

  12. Is it a myth that the pilot and co-pilot have to eat different meals so that if something is spoiled both pilots don’t get sick? Thanks!

  13. Looks like the Delta terminal at LaGarbage will get some good food options finally. I know you’re AA but maybe we can look forward to getting back to being called LaGuardia… in a few years!

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