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An itinerant foodie reveals his secrets

Saturday, November 10, 2001
Jeremy Ferguson

I remember jolting fellow passengers by unzipping my camera bag to reveal a perfect platter of smoked salmon sprinkled with capers.

The Toronto caterer Urban Source once lunch-boxed a meal for 20 en route to a convention: lemongrass shrimp on sugar cane, barbecued duck crÍpes, vegetarian sushi and green papaya salad with sweet peppers and toasted cashews. "It looked incredible. It cost about $30 a person," catering manager Calvin Hambrook says. "Caterers have a future up there in the clouds."

Ever-classy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has for the past few years been orchestrating delectable high-flying meals for its well-heeled clientele. The Go lunch box sells from $20 to $28.

Lightly dressed salads, smoked fish and seafood, cold cuts, vegetables, cheeses and fruits ideally fit the bill. Eccentricity may be indulged: A bowl of salted nuts, a double shot of Johnnie Walker Black and a James Lee Burke novel is as close to heaven as I get at 38,000 feet.

I like the idea of tailoring a meal to my destination; it puts me in the mood. The all-Canadian flier can't beat B.C. salmon caviar, arugula salad, grilled Atlantic salmon and a hunk of old cheddar. Departing for the Mediterranean, I want a pan bagnat stuffed with anchovies and black olives and lightly drizzled with garlic and olive oil. For Southeast Asia, soft Vietnamese spring rolls, shrimps and scallops dressed with chili-peanut sauce.

Plastic utensils, thimble-like containers for salad dressings, salt and pepper and cheerful paper napkins are now standard travel gear.

That miserable little seat may tell your bum it's in steerage, but first-class food kicks the angst down a notch or two.


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