Mile High Menus

Fascinating factoid from the New York Times – passengers on Lufthansa drink as much tomato juice as beer – 423,000 gallons of the stuff, annually.  As to why this is, the Times concludes “tomato juice apparently has a different taste in different atmospheric conditions” like those experienced inside an aircraft at cruising altitude.  Which is all good news for under-ripe Stellenbosch Cabernets, which on the ground taste like tomatoes.  As indeed do austere Bordeaux-style blends such as the Faithful Hound 2009 from Mulderbosch.  So assuming wine flavours respond to altitude in the same way as vegetables, if you want a refreshing beer on Lufthansa, order a Stellenbosch Cab.

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Of course this could all be baloney and the real reason for the rush on the red stuff is for Bloody Mary’sVodka volumes are not reported, so it remains pure speculation.  Still it does rather make a mockery of airlines like SAA choosing wine via a blind tasting at Nederburg, in Paarl.  They’d be far better off moving their selection process to Johannesburg, which is after all 20% closer to cruising altitude.

But oh for the days recalled by publisher Charles Pick in the Telegraph, of take-away meals for flights.  “When Karen Blixen, the aristocratic author of Out of Africa flew to London to meet Pick in 1958, she complained of the ‘plastic’ airline food and requested something more suitable for the return journey.  Blixen said: ‘It’s a long flight, Mr Pick, isn’t it, to New York? What am I going to eat if they serve the thing I was offered yesterday?  Will you please find me a bottle of champagne and some oysters?’

With some difficulty, Pick secured a bottle of Moet et Chandon and a dozen oysters from the Connaught hotel and presented them at the Pan Am desk at Heathrow, explaining that his distinguished passenger required the oysters to be shucked on board.”