Things that taste of airport

A very warm welcome to London Heathrow Airport
A very warm welcome to London Heathrow Airport

In a column in the FT, Madison Darbyshire talks about the latest sensation in coffee circles: “the parfait cup of coffee” that costs £15. It is a really carefully concocted drink devised and served at the Café Alain Ducasse in King’s Cross Coal Drops Yard, is made of single origin beans from Yemen (100g for £59) and is brewed as filter. At the end of the column, and all in the name of Science, she buys “black filter coffee from a high-street chain”, pumped out from a Thermos, and drinks it from a paper cup, plastic lid and all. Then she declares: “It tasted distinctly of airport”.

Let’s gloss over the fact that this writer seemed to either not be aware of the fact that requesting filter coffee from a high-street chain is basically subjecting your taste buds to early death, or didn’t care about it 😏, and let’s focus on the more interesting aspect: what other things taste distinctly of airport?

For me:

  • The soggy scrambled eggs slash omelette for breakfast on long haul flights—specially if it comes with a few small, soggy and shy mushrooms embedded on it.
  • Hard rock bread buns, low fat wholemeal croissants (the horror, the horror), cold-on-the-verge-of-frozen bread and other Crimes Against Bakeries (British Airways, I’m looking at you 👀).
  • Turbulence Tea Time: scalding hot tea served in cups too wide to hold its contents without the operator’s manual assistance (i.e. having to hold the cup and compensate for the aircraft’s swings, or risk minor burns and tea stains all over me 😂)
  • The Dead Fruits Society and Soggy Club for Salads And Miscellaneous Vegetables: two venerable institutions represented at almost every carrier menu, often disguised with modern hipster adjectives like “Freshly cut”, “Blanched”, “Crisp”, etc.
  • Food so salty even the oversteeped and ultratannic Turbulence Tea (without sugar) feels sweet.
  • “Stews” which are 99% stock cube, 1% water.
  • Antimatter, disguised as dessert: impossibly sweet confections that pack 4000 kcals in 25 cl, give or take. Each spoonful could power an elite athlete to run three marathons (back to back).
  • Very dry Chardonnay wines (the ones that make your jaw go “UUUUURGH, WHYyYyYyY?”)
  • Dry champagne.
  • A foamy substance that wants to be milk and tastes of nothing.
  • Burnt coffee at the lounge.
  • Residual brown liquid after washing the espresso coffee machine at the lounge, stored in thermos and served as “coffee” at the plane. It can be a serious competitor to Turbulence Tea Time in terms of burn potential. If they run out of this, they can also improvise a quick replacement with soluble coffee.
  • Small cans of beer.
  • Sparkling water with ice and lemon.
  • Cold frittate.
  • Very sweet and creamy coffee: I don’t do this anymore, but I used to have frappuccinos and other creamy coffee based drinks desserts when I flew, so the taste vaguely reminds me of those times.

What else makes you think: “ah yeah, airport!“? Comment away! 😃 ✈️