A Claustrophobe’s Banquet: Airline Food and The Cuisine Of Helplessness

The Imperial Youth Review

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I’m traveling one of those sprawling stretches of New Jersey midland blacktop where the landscape is a never-ending cascade of auto parts stores, tattoo parlors and Radio Shacks — and yes, suddenly, a Stewart’s Drive-In: hamburgers and root beer, the sign declaring I could honk twice (or, in a concession to the 21st century, call a number on my cell phone) and someone – maybe, one could hope, an apple-cheeked teenager wearing satin shorts and roller skates and a deep ignorance of the atomic bomb — would bring me food.

And sure enough, a sandy-ponytailed teenage girl (in sneakers, not skates) took my order and brought it to me. She bore my meal on a heavy, metal-lipped tray with rubberized claw hooks on its bottom: solid, Made In America, its manufacturer probably long defunct. “Wind your window up a little,” she said, and I saw how the tray was built…

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