When was the last time that you were excited about the meals being served in an economy class while you are up in the air?
Let’s face it, the fare that comes out of a tin foil in rectangular plastic trays doesn’t exactly scream gourmet goodness. But things are likely to be slightly different if you happen to travel on Etihad Airways this Eid.
The Abu Dhabi-based carrier has upped its game when it comes to in-flight food and is now going the distance to serve “real” food”. Usually, plating of food in an appealing way is reserved for the passenger who pay premium airfare.
That same amount of love isn’t shown on food served on economy class passengers. Often, we make our peace with clinical rectangular plastic trays with edible, but not memorable food or tough bread rolls in plastic wraps that could chip teeth.
Etihad Airways is keen to give a different dining experience to its passengers. The company is determined to give their economy clientele some culinary love by serving food that feels like the food that you get from a bistro or a hearty restaurant on the ground.
Think steaming pumpkin ravioli in creamy pesto sauce with toasted pine nuts, traditional Arabic lamb curry with flavoured rice and chicken teriyaki with toasted sesame seeds for the passengers of the economy class.
“We have moved away from mass-produced food that’s frozen and used weeks later. Everything is freshly produced in our kitchens in Abu Dhabi,” said Linda Celestino, Vice President Guest Service And Delivery, in an interaction in their headquarters in the capital. They have also done away with plastic trays and are now using sustainable, eco-friendly dinnerware.
“The plates we use are the stylised version of a dhow … We also re-cycle them. All the plates and equipments are sent back to the supplier, they grind it down and re-build it for new base plate. We don’t take just virgin plastic … By 2022, we will phase out plastic cups and the use of sing-use plastics.”
Almost 65,000 meals are made in their kitchen for their passengers.
Gulf News tabloid! was invited to review the “real, wholesome food” that’s now being served in Etihad Airway’s economy class. We began our food tasting session with a bowl of pumpkin ravioli in creamy pesto sauce. Those tiny pockets were like tiny morsels of heaven. The sauce was loaded with a earthy, herb-filled flavour. The parmesan shaving and the toasted pine nuts gave the flight food a restaurant feel.
Next up was Teriyaki Chicken with jasmine rice. The chicken was tender and the marinade was flavourful. It wasn’t like the usual flight food that’s serviceable, but rarely memorable.
When was the last time you craved the egg scramble served during your long commute to another country? Here, the warm food which tasted freshly made was a winner. For those who like Emirati food, the lamb boukhari and dakhous was comfort food at its best.
To sign off, they gave us a tasting platter of desserts including lemon drizzle cake, hazelnut chocolate brownie and chocolate brownie. There were also Indian sweets like ladoos for grabs.
If they can pull off the quality of food that they served during this tasting, then there’s a good chance that you will look forward to in-flight food.