The pandemic has meant that for a lot of us, travelling has been a no go. Unless it’s been for exceptional reasons, the closest many of us can get to an airport is the M25 around Heathrow.
In short, we’re all bereft without travelling. It’s one of life’s greatest things. The ability to explore new cultures and locations is unrivalled.
So, when you’re missing travelling, what else can you do?
Well, one travelling enthusiast – and self-proclaimed #avgeek – has taken matters into his own hands, by recreating memorable aircraft meals at home.
Yes, you read that correctly – aircraft meals at home. You know, those meals in a plastic dish with foil. The ones that if it were ever shown a picture of a real meal it clearly wasn’t looking. Fortunately for Nik, the man behind the account SOPLANE, he’s had some belters.
“Three dishes that really stand out to me are a steak on Swiss, Singaporean Chicken Curry on Singapore Airlines and this Indian breakfast I had on Qatar Airways in economy,” said Nik. “I have not recreated any of these. The Swiss steak was pretty special and a signature dish. I have such a good memory of it – and I don’t want to spoil that memory!”
Nik has always had a penchant for flight, even from a childhood age, and the food onboard has always resonated with him”
“I have always had an interest in plane food. “I remember always looking forward to the meal service on the plane as a kid. I always wanted to be a flight attendant and was fascinated by the galleys. I was the kid that would spend half the flight sitting in the galley chatting with the flight attendants.”
His conversations with flight attendants paid off, as they would often bring food back from business class for him to enjoy.
“I have this memory of this one time we were upgraded to Business on Lufthansa and the flight attendants carting the hot mains down the aisle and serving you the hot dishes using these tongs. At the time, I found it fascinating and has stuck with me as memory.
“Thai Airways used to serve their meals on domestic flights in these purple plastic boxes which had handles and when closed, looked like a briefcase you could just carry off the plane with you. Again, I found that fascinating.”
So, fast-forward to the present day, when we’re all stuck at home with nothing to do. How does a YouTube content creator in the aviation sector, who’s built up a healthy following through his quirky and humorous reviews and bereft of content, suddenly turn to culinary creativity? The answer – boredom.
“I was just really bored in January. Due to the COVID restrictions in Scotland, combined with the Scottish winter weather, there was literally nothing for me to do.”
Fair enough. We’ve all taken to doing the odd bit of baking hither and thither. Why recreate airplane food?
“One Sunday, I was making breakfast, I suddenly thought, why not just plate it up using my airline plates and trays. I hadn’t really planned it and just arranged what I had cooked. I had had my trolley for nearly 20 years and been filling it up with airline plates, trays, and glasses.
“The following weeks I just cooked random meals, arranging them on my trays. But then I thought, let’s recreate a meal. I love Wienerschnitzel (having grown up in Austria) and Austrian Airlines used to offer a pre-order meal service where you could pay extra for a special meal, one of which was Wienerschnitzel. That came with a chocolate mousse, potato salad and cucumber salad. So, I thought, let’s recreate that for fun. It’s something to do on a Sunday!”
And so, a new avenue for Nik was opened. But surely, to be able to pull these dishes off – some of them highly complex in nature – you have to have some culinary ability, surely? You’re talented in the kitchen, right Nik?
“Absolutely not. I am not a natural cook. I don’t really enjoy it that much either. People always say that cooking and baking can be relaxing – I find it stressful. So, every meal for me is pretty much a challenge!”
Ah. Well, easy come easy go.
Regardless of that somewhat minor setback, Nik has been able to create some breath-taking dishes from a wide range of cuisines and airlines, which have been immensely popular on his Instagram page by his thousands of followers.
One follower, however, might have slightly different thoughts – his husband. A man who has had to eat his dinner from a tiny tray for the last five months.
As Nik said: “He is a good sport and I would not be able to do this without his patience. I am always late with my meals, but he puts up with it. But then again, it’s not like he has an option!”