Trans-Pacific Surprise

I was pleasantly surprised in a most unlikely circumstance.

Nowadays, you eat a meal on an airplane flight just to help pass the time, to get your mind off the cattle car roundup in the cabin, engine noise, TSA, and the other discomforts of modern-day flight. The last thing I thought I’d ever blog about is airplane food. And yet, here I sat on a flight from Honolulu to Auckland with a slight grin on my face. Did my taste buds awaken ever so slightly?

Hawaiian Airlines likes to brag that it is one of the few remaining airlines in the world to serve meals on all its flights (except for short-haul). While breakfast between Seattle and Honolulu was forgettable, the dinner on economy on the leg to Auckland was a mild surprise. Mind you, we’re not talking about restaurant-quality food here, but what normally rouses grunts of resignation turned out to be a decent repast of chicken with rice. The bird, a small cut of breast that might’ve been brined, had light teriyaki chicken flavors and pleasant smoke flavor from grilling, topped with a tasty if limp mango-red bell pepper salsa. Rather than Uncle Ben’s, the rice was steamed Japanese short-grain rice. It was good to the extent that pre-cooked rice shuttled from kitchen to airplane tray can be, a little mushy, not ideal but decent. Oh, and the mango cheesecake was a pleasant surprise.

At the risk of harboring false impressions, the so-called Hawaiian Tea served an hour outside Auckland featured an unimpressive chicken salad sandwiched in a cold kaiser roll, which our neighboring passenger sniffed at, put back in the meal box and enjoyed her pre-purchased spam musubi instead—my kind of people!

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