Airplane Food – China Eastern Airlines

For our flights to and from Shanghai, we flew China Eastern Airlines. The only reason we chose this carrier, which is a member of the Sky Team alliance, is that their price was 60% of any other carrier’s – the Shanghai market seems to command unreasonably high air fares. The flight was fine, although the flight attendants are frumpily dressed and are surly in their attitude. They make the flight attendants at US airlines look cheerful. The thing I found particularly odd was how the meal service differed on the outbound and return flights.

Our outbound flight left Bangkok at 2:00 am, arriving Shanghai at 7:00. I would have expected that there would be no meal service for this four-hour red eye flight but about an hour after our delayed departure, the flight attendants served a choice of hot entrees for a relatively substantial meal. This is the duck with wide rice noodles. 

Our return trip left Shanghai at about 9:40 pm, arriving Bangkok just before 1:00 am. Considering that you need to arrive at the airport a few hours before departure, I expected they would serve a hot meal service, similar to what they unexpectedly served on the outbound flight. Instead, we were served a plastic box of snack items: dinner roll, slice of banana bread, hickory kernels, apple chips, onion cookies “with original flavour,” and what I think were Oreo-flavored cookie bars. In short, a very sad selection of food.

In this day and age, I guess I shouldn’t have any expectations for food served in economy class anywhere in the world, but I was confused by the difference in service levels between the two flights on the same route.

Cooking – Feta and Spinach Phyllo Pie

To ensure a tasty start to the new year, I cooked a simple but fulfilling brunch for Tawn and myself, a feta and spinach pie made with phyllo dough.  The recipe was based on one in Jamie Oliver’s “30 Minute Meals” series, which is available on iTunes.

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The filling is eggs, feta cheese, cheddar cheese, and sauteed spinach seasoned with a little nutmeg, dried oregano, and salt and pepper.  I modified the recipe slightly, substituting provolone for the cheddar and also sauteeing an onion to give the filling more flavor.  The exterior is formed of sheets of phyllo dough, splashed with extra virgin olive oil and a dusting of sweet paprika.  The dough is folded over the top to create a sealed pie and then baked in a skillet in the oven for 20 minutes.

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The result is a flaky crust and an oozy, rich interior – a combination of flavors and textures that is very appealing.  When paired with a mixed greens salad (in our case with some steamed beets and persimmon), it is a very pleasant meal and a tasty start to 2012!