I'm sick and tired and I am not going to take it anymore. A week ago on YouTube I saw a horrible thing: extruded chicken mass, like piles of pinkish silly putty spiraling out of a faucet. This is the stuff that goes into your chicken patties and nuggets. I gagged and thought, "We've reached the bottom of the food chain, we are worse than bottom-feeders."
But now, on this very plane on which I sit on my way to Tokyo, there is a slab of this horrendous stuff on my black plastic tray, trying to hide under an equally doubtful pile of stuffing mix. It is punky pinky white inside, bouncy, uniform, and—the telltale sign that we're all going to the demnition bow-wows—it's moist. No actual chicken breast served in economy class is moist inside: the shreds are dry and overcooked. The shriveled hard green peas next to it were by contrast consolingly "natural."
I held the chicken up on my plastic fork to investigate it as a steward came by. "Is there anything wrong?"
"I just wondered what this is."
Oh, he said conspiratorially, "we are told to call it chicken."
It is not hard to do better, in fact it is much simpler. Richard Fox reports from a 1968 flight on Air Burma, in a plane with cracked windows and a bare metal floor. He had very low expectations. But a gentle, smiling stewardess offered a large bowl of bananas, sweet as she, with affection and the confidence that she was offering the best there was. I had a similar experience. On a flight from Budapest to Vienna, on the Bulgarian Civil Air Transport, there was in-flight perfection.