Each week, my Meal of the Week feature examines an airline meal from my travels over the years. This may be a meal from earlier in the week or it may be a meal served over a decade ago.
This week’s Meal of the Week focuses on the feast presented to me in China Southern First Class on a domestic flight from Guangzhou to Beijing.
Despite sincere efforts to branch out and try more food this year, particularly from East Asia, I am still struggling to branch out beyond my comfort zone.
On this flight, I had no choice. Although the menu had a western option (steak…how novel), it was not loaded due to the 3.5 hour delay. And the thought of not eating until I could order a hamburger at the Hilton did pass through my mind…but I quickly excised it from my thoughts. Nope. Now was the time to try something new.
The appetizer included baby abalone, marinated jelly fish, and crispy sweet and sour seabass. And I don’t know if it was to impress the over-the-top kind flight attendant, but I just took my chopsticks and ate it all. Every last bite. And you now something? It really wasn’t that bad.
When you eat food you don’t really like, you tend to feel fuller faster. I was ready to stop right after the appetizer, but next came a bowl of Chau Zhou soup, essentially beef meatballs in a clear broth.
I ate it all, then I drank the broth. The meat tasted fine, but had the texture of cotton. Not that I eat cotton swabs, but the meatball seemed to be held together by the same sort of consistency that holds a cotton swab together.
Then came the main course, braised fish maw with marinated goose wings and mixed vegetables. I had no idea that maw was bladder (not the urinary bladder by the way) and just dug right in. Frankly, I did not know which was which on the plate, just that it was presented to me. The texture and taste was new to me. I found it to be fine, just something that would take a lot of getting use to before I voluntarily ordered it again.
That should have been more than enough, but the flight attendant suggested told me that I needed to try the beef noodle soup, a China Southern specialty.
Out it came in a huge bowl…there was no way I could finish this. But this was delicious. Easily my favorite part of the meal and brimming with the excellent flavor of peanuts and coriander. If you do fly China Southern, I recommend this dish.
Although I was encouraged to try some sweet soup with red bean and lotus seed for dessert, I just had some fruit and small sampling of ice vanilla ice cream.
Perhaps what surprised me most was the cappuccino that came out next…it was tremendous: strong and nicely blended.
I will continue to try, as situations warrant, to reach outside my comfort zone and try new things. This was one of those flights. Rather than pat myself on the back, though, it makes me realize I have a long way to go.