Enjoying Pesach at 30,000ft

By Venetia Thompson, May 6, 2011

Excuse me, madam? Excuse me?"

I opened my eyes to see a burly BA stewardess standing over me, her wrists buckling under the weight of two giant trays.

"Here are your special meals."

We immediately sat up and readied ourselves for the culinary treat we'd been promised: the kosher airplane meal - which my boyfriend had decided to order for us (despite his not being Jewish and my not keeping kosher) having heard from his Jewish friends that kosher meals were bigger, tastier and better than all other airplane food.

We both looked down at the massive trays before us - contents invisible beneath layers and layers of plastic wrap, tape, different lids and stickers confirming the contents of the box was not only kosher, but kosher for Passover. How exciting!

Chunks of chicken and potato flew off through the air

We immediately began clawing at the cellophane. Ten minutes later we were still trying to get through the meal's many protective layers - it appeared that in their zeal to avoid any contamination they had also made the food totally inaccessible. We needed scissors, or perhaps a sharp knife - both of course hard to find on a plane.

Finally, after chipping all of my nails, then using a combination of our teeth and the car keys, we accessed the contents, only to discover yet more impenetrable protective plastic and sticky tape, this time in the form of small, sealed boxes. It was kosher pass the parcel meets the krypton factor.

Disappointingly, the only items easily accessible were the bizarre sachets of kosher lemon juice (which I squeezed into my mouth, in desperation) and the decaf kosher 'coffee drink', which were both deemed to have enough protection from their individual sachets to not need any further plastic wrapping.

However, never one to be defeated when it comes to the prospect of food, I persevered and eventually managed to break into the main part of the meal with one last surge of strength.

Chunks of chicken and potato flew through the air as the cellophane suddenly gave way. I devoured the one piece that had fortunately landed in my lap and moved onto the vast quantity of matzos provided - remembering after my third bite that I only really like them when they're covered in butter and dipped in something.

I moved onto a small box of cooked carrots (I'm not sure why exactly they weren't allowed to make contact with the chicken and potatoes) and a box of tomato-based sauce (again, possibly meant to go with the chicken but kept tightly segregated) - both nice enough, but hardly the food fest I'd been hoping for.

I gave up trying to liberate the lone piece of cake from its box after my third attempt and went back to sleep, starving but without the necessary dexterity to do anything about it.

Moral of the story? Don't try to take advantage of someone else's religion for the sake of larger portions: it takes dedication to maintain a kosher lifestyle - and apparently also a pair of scissors.

Last updated: 11:17am, May 6 2011