When I didn't get my cookie, I almost started crying. No, this didn't happen when I was 5, 10 or even 15 years old. It was this past Christmas on an airplane bound for my home in New York, and I'm pretty sure this is the most embarrassing sentence I have ever typed.
Airport dining doesn't have to be terminal. A new wave of airport restaurants is elevating airport cuisine above the level of greasy burgers and wilting sushi, as celebrity chefs and regional food heroes bring their magic to the one-time culinary wasteland of the airport.
Many of the chefs involved are Michelin-starred, and their offerings rate alongside the finest restaurants in their cities.
The better restaurants that are located in the public areas of their respective airports, such as Hong Kong's Hung's Delicacies and La Moraga in Malaga, Spain, have become magnets for non-traveling locals, achieving the hitherto unthinkable by turning the airport into a foodie destination.
What’s the deal with airline food?
It’s a question travelers and stand-up comedians have been asking for decades. Bags of peanuts, barely-edible dinner rolls and the dreaded “meat-like substance” have been a staple of in-flight dining for decades. There are even websites devoted to all things airline food, such as AirlineMeals.net.
But did you know that airline food is celebrating a milestone birthday? Eighty-five years ago this month, the first meal was served on a commercial airliner.
British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal has long been on a mission to stir his countrymen's culinary senses but the gastronomic pioneer has now turned his attentions to an altogether more complex problem - rustling up gourmet airline food.
Blumenthal was in London this week to launch British Airways' new in-flight Olympic menu, which he has helped create alongside Michelin star chef Simon Hulstone.
The luxury fare - which includes dishes such as "Rillette of mackerel dressed on a pickled cucumber carpaccio with sour dough croutes" - will be served on all BA flights for the duration of this summer's Olympic Games.
Read the full story: "Celebrity chefs create mile-high menus"
If you need one golden strategy for ordering your in-flight meal, it's this: always order the stew.
If the stew's not available, go for fried rice and fatty fish. Pasta, noodles, chicken breast or anything deep-fried does not fare so well in the harsh conditions of the aircraft galley.
These recommendations come straight from the people tasked with making the millions of meals served in-flight every day, such as Fritz Gross, director of culinary excellence at LSG Sky Chefs Asia Pacific.
As the guy in charge of LSG Sky Chefs' Hong Kong operation, which churns out 30,000 meals daily for airlines such as DragonAir, United Airlines and British Airways, Gross' challenge is a tough one: serve hundreds of people quality meals, but do so with no knives, no crème brûlée blow torches (or indeed any fancy equipment) and with no fresh ingredients at the point of service.
Read the full story: "Skip the pasta! And other unsavory truths about airplane food"
When my parents come from Chicago to visit me in Atlanta, they don't book a flight. Instead of hopping a two-hour flight, they make a 12-hour trek through five states because what they're bringing would never pass those TSA agents.
There is no exemption to the liquid rule when it comes to homemade marinara sauce. What they have will not fit in those quart-sized zip-top bags, not to mention the concern that might arise from the smoking coolers filled with dry ice keeping homemade Chicago goodness fresh on its southern journey. So, they pack up the car and drive.
Personally, I think they're crazy - but I won't complain too much because that cooler of food is destined for my refrigerator. That pan of lasagna conjures up memories of home, family and tradition. When I smell the homemade red sauce, I instantly think of my mom in her kitchen (yes, HER kitchen) stirring a huge pot. She always says a great sauce (or gravy) doesn't drip through a fork.
Also in that blue and white cooler: two tubs of my mom's legendary Italian ice. If you have not had a proper lemon ice, do yourself a favor. My parents spend a day in the kitchen squeezing fresh lemons to get the flavor just right. It's a recipe perfected years ago to replicate the lemon ice they enjoyed as kids from the street vendors in Chicago.
As it deals with fallout from its bankruptcy announcement, American Airlines is also facing the wrath of a family who claim their loved one died after eating a meal served by the carrier.
The wife and daughter of the late Othon Cortes of Miami are suing the airline and Sky Chefs for more than $1 million, alleging he ate food contaminated with bacteria during a flight from Barcelona, Spain, to New York.
The incident happened on May 18 after Cortes consumed an in-flight meal that allegedly contained chicken, according to a lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. District Court in Miami.
Family: In-flight meal killed flier
Packets of peanuts are in no danger of disappearing completely from airplanes. In a nutshell, there's a law protecting them.
Last year, the Department of Transportation asked the public about a possible peanut ban on planes and other measures it said it was considering to address severe allergies among fliers.
It presented three options for debate: a complete ban on serving peanuts on planes, a ban on serving them when a passenger requests a peanut-free flight in advance, or a requirement for peanut-free buffer zones around severely allergic passengers who make advance requests.
The agency also solicited public input on health risks and the idea of maintaining current practice.
Read the rest of "Peanuts on planes protected by law" on CNN Travel.
What are iconic and twisted and no longer free? Pretzels aboard some Continental Airlines flights.
Continental stopped serving complimentary snacks to passengers flying coach on domestic routes this week. The change is consistent with the carrier's merger-partner United Airlines' policy of food for purchase.
"We are removing beverage snacks - pretzels and Biscoff [cookies] - in an effort to reduce costs and align ourselves with many of our network competitors," Continental representative Andrew Farraro said.
Continental expects the pretzel and cookie cut could save $2.8 million annually.