Thursday, August 04, 2005

I'm a vegetarian, not a health nut

Gimme that damn french toast!

We're on AA 76 from LAX to Dulles, and we just finished breakfast. This is not our first parade, so we made sure to order vegetarian meals--and, yes, they were serving food since we upgraded to first class. If we were in steerage, where we normally sit, it wouldn't be an issue; we would have just brought food on with us.

We've noticed an assumption in our vegetarian meals on flights. This isn't the first one that's included the assumption, but it's among the biggest letdowns we've had: We were snoozing peacefully after takeoff when the flight attendant dropped off breakfast menus. They offer an appetizer of fresh fruit and three entrees. This is brunch, so there's a pepper jack cheese omlette that comes with turkey Canadian bacon, so we skipped over that to the second selection: cinnamon apple french toast. The menu describes this as "golden french toast filled with a cinnamon apple cream cheese served with maple syrup accompanied by scrambled eggs." Mmm. That sounds good--better than the third option: cereal and yogurt. All of these will be followed by a warm chocolate chip cookie with milk as a snack later in the flight.

So, we were ready with our order when the flight attendant came back and said, "Sorry for giving you menus. I have your special order meals already." That's when we knew the jig was up, the fix was in, that they were assuming the worst about us.

Our suspicion of what their assumption would lead to was based on what it led to on the flight to LAX: a fruit platter. That's right, while everyone around us was enjoying "golden french toast filled with a cinnamon apple cream cheese," we were dining on melon slices, grapes, walnut shards, and raisins. There was also some grapefruit, which spilled its sour juice over everything else on the plate. We didn't eat it because, well, because it was sour."Golden french toast filled with a cinnamon apple cream cheese" or a mouthful of sour citrus? Let me think about that one for a minute.

To be fair, we did partake of the same "baked on board" biscuits that everyone else did, so there's that. (Although "baked on board" somehow makes me think of the flight attendants in the galley with a Barbie oven, baking with the heat of a 40W bulb.) But, again we were subject to the airline's assumption--and it's not just American that does this--that because we're vegetarians, we're health nuts.

The result is that they throw fruit plates with some of what I call "dirt and rocks" at us--in this case, walnuts and raisins. Hey, you know, if we were health nuts, our first complaint would be that they're not providing us any significant protein, like we would have gotten from that egg that accompanied the "golden french toast filled with a cinnamon apple cream cheese." Did I mention the french toast? But, heads up, airlines--and other institutional food servers--when we call in advance and say that we don't want any meat, but that we will eat eggs and dairy products, don't assume that you can throw some dirt and rocks in a bowl and make us happy.

Hell, we're the ones that stopped at Dad's Donuts on the way off Balboa Island to get one last batch (and thanks to Dad's for the three free ones for the road...mmmm...). We stopped in the airport to pick up See's chocolates for our coworkers and ourselves. We love ice cream--did I mention the Balboa Bars we had last night, walking around the Big Island? Maybe I didn't mention all these things, but maybe you should ask before you put together your next set of vegetarian menus and meals.

And thanks for the warm chocolate chip cookie and milk. Please don't replace that with a granola-hemp bar and vanilla soy milk.

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