United’s MadLibs Menu Planning

After giving credit where credit was due last week when United recovered my MacBook Air, I’m afraid I must now lodge yet another complaint against United AIrlines. The food. Of course, complaining about airline food is an easy and unoriginal target, but the last couple of meals I’ve had have struck me as particularly odd. I’m not commenting on the quality of the food, but rather the naming of the items, which does not seem to have much in common with the ingredients in said items. Here are two recent examples:

Item 1: The Tuscan Wrap. Smoked turkey, sun-dried tomatoes, canned and sliced black olives and spicy monterey jack cheese wrapped in a tomato tortilla and served hot with a side of decidedly Mexican salsa. Admittedly, the wrap-as-food-category is a bit of a jackalope itself, but how is exactly is this Tuscan? I think they’re hanging their hat on the sun-dried tomatoes and the black olives here, but in my book, pairing it with Pace Picante Sauce takes the Tuscany right out of this item.

Item 2: A Cobb Salad. Chili-lime grilled shrimp, bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, canned and sliced black olives (notice a trend here?) and cubes of Swiss cheese paired with Asian Sesame-Ginger dressing. What?!? I’ve certainly never had shellfish or a non-bleu cheese on a Cobb salad before, but pairing it with Asian Sesame-Ginger dressing takes this into the culinary twilight zone.

It seems like the menu “planners” (I cannot call them chefs or even cooks with a clear conscience) at United are simply selecting words and ingredients in a random, MadLib-inspired fashion to come up with the meals they are serving in business class and first class — which I am flying regularly these days thanks to all the upgrades I get as a consolation prize for become a United 1K flyer last year. And don’t get me started on the snack-boxes they offer (for a fee) in the economy section, for those are little better than Lunchables engineered for adults.

OK, rant over. I feel much better now. I think I’ll go grab a Lithuanian smoothie.