Post 85 / Hour 89: Poison for the Journey Home
By Dave Fox
Somewhere Over Greenland
[This story first appeared on my original humor website, davethefox.com, in August, 2002.]
I wanted this job for two reasons: I would get free food. And if I got bad free food, I could create justice in the world by exposing restaurants for the festering cesspools of bad food that they were.
Now that I am a world-famous writer, I have decided to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a food critic and enlighten you with my very first restaurant review.
To write this restaurant review, I dined at an exclusive Scandinavian restaurant with a spectacular view of southern Greenland. The restaurant is called “Chez SAS Flight 937 from Copenhagen to Seattle, in Economy Class.” I have dined here a few times.
Chez SAS was cozy and intimate, with other diners seated approximately 1.3 inches from my nose. The wait staff put on an impressive show, assisting me in balancing my chicken, salad, and exquisite dessert, plus a beer and plastic cup, all precariously close to my lap on a cute little tray approximately three square inches in size.
The presentation of the meal would have made Martha Stewart jealous. The chicken — microwaved to perfection — came adorned with artistically placed faux grill marks, creating an aura of almost-real chicken. It had the consistency of a condom, which — had I not been dining alone — would have added a certain romance to the meal.
The chicken came on a bed of pasta, which was as tasty as the plasticware it was served on. It was garnished with a glob of coagulated Elmer’s Glue, which the menu quaintly referred to as “cheese.”
Alongside the chicken, in its own plastic container, was a side salad and portion of “Classic Italian Salad Dressing” that was “best before: see date stamp.” The date stamp itself was illegible, indicating the deliciously aged nature of the dressing.
My beer came served in a lovely plastic cup, pieces of which chipped off in my mouth like a flaky pastry. The only disappointing thing about the beverage selection was that the restaurant was out of Gammel Dansk, a traditional Danish liquor that is usually available. Gammel Dansk would have enhanced the flavor of the food, in that it might have made me drunk enough to not taste the chicken.
For dessert, I had the “mysterious moon-shaped piece of chocolate wrapped in plastic.” I noticed, as I unwrapped my sweet, that it was packaged in the highest quality Scandinavian plastic wrap. Taking my first bite, my mouth was filled with an explosion of marzipan. But this was no ordinary marzipan! No! This was special made-for-airline, flavorless marzipan, which was especially appreciated by those diners on board who did not like marzipan.
The packaging added simplistic ambiance to the meal. The salt and pepper arrived in SAS’s trademark Packaging with Clever English Slogans Written By Non-Native English Speakers.
“The color of snow, the taste of tears, the enormity of oceans,” read the salt wrapper. I found this highly poetic — especially juxtaposed with the simplistic wrapper for the knife, fork, handiwipe, and napkin, which was labeled, “Food.”
Airline food on SAS: Truth in labeling.
But what I found most dramatic was the pepper packet. “Pepper,” it said, “has been called the gift of the East, though ‘gift’ means poison in Swedish, don’t let that put you off.” [sic]
The run-on sentence and misplaced comma enhanced the exotic nature of this Scandinavian cuisine. The threat of poison, perhaps unpleasant to some, made me appreciate the honesty of this airline in its attempt to create “food.”
These slogans are part of a long-standing Scandinavian tradition in which people who think they speak English well enough to produce advertising copy attempt to write catchy phrases.
Take, for example, an ad campaign in the late 1960s by Electrolux, a Swedish vacuum manufacturer. “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux” was their clever motto. It did not sell a lot of vacuum cleaners, but it proved to America that at least the Swedes can rhyme.
Speaking of sucking, I did not finish my chicken, but I plan to return to this restaurant in a couple of months. At 34,000 feet over Greenland, screeching through the sky at 592 miles per hour, I can honestly say this is the best meal available in the area for less than $4,000.
But right now, I am dreaming of a chicken sandwich that is actually edible at the Pig and Whistle, my neighborhood drinking establishment a short walk from my home in Seattle. I will be there in six hours. They even have Gammel Dansk.
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