August 24, 2005

prêt à manger

I just read an article in a recent issue of Conde Nast Traveler (which arrives at my house for the roommate) in which someone had written an article bemoaning the sorry state of airport food. They went to airports all over the world and really didn't find anything worth eating.

And I have to agree with that assessment in general -- airport food is beyond appalling and I have on occasion walked through entire terminals in the hopes of something decent to eat, only to settle for Chili's -- but disagree in specific. I can think of three places I have had damned fine airport eats.

One is the international terminal in Boston's Logan airport, where there is a foofy high-end place that cobbles together dishes from several of Boston's celebrity chefs. Littlelee and I had a shockingly good meal there before our flight to Germany, consisting of smoked mussels in a mustard sauce and a top-notch lobster bisque. Expensive, but what do you expect in an airport?

Another is the Memphis airport, which was touched on by the article as having sad-sack BBQ, so perhaps I am confusing it with another airport (Nashville? Dallas?), but I distinctly remember getting BBQ in an airport that was entirely acceptable.

And last is the crown jewel of airport eats, combining unquestionable deliciousness with speed and affordability. Its only flaw is that, to my knowledge, it is not available in any US airport. Anyone who's flown through Heathrow should know by now that I am talking about Prêt À Manger. Dear merciful heaven, what a great idea. Fresh healthy organic ingredients, frequent preparation of sandwiches and salads, straightforward but interesting flavors, and streamlined presentation -- you can scoot in there and within 5 minutes come out with a fantastic non-soggy rock-shrimp & arugula sandwich, a packet of all natural black pepper potato chips, and an organic elderberry soda (my new favorite soda, yum). The parsnip chips pictured above are my last treasure from our multiple trips to Prêt À Manger during our euro-voyage, and they are really wonderful, sweet parsnippy flavor balanced with a good hit of black pepper. Why O why can't we have such a thing on our own shores, especially in this day and age of reduced or eliminated airplane meals? Sigh.

Posted by foodnerd at August 24, 2005 08:02 PM

i know there are prêt à mangers all over nyc, you would think that they would consider putting one in one of the area airports. actually, i remember mcdonald's bought a stake in prêt, then opened up a bunch in japan, but i think they've all closed down now. haven't heard about their supposed plan to take over the world in awhile. airports would definitely be the way to go, maybe in all those jetblue terminals. mmmm. coronation chicken and the all day breakfast sarnie, YUM.

Posted by: santos. at August 27, 2005 08:20 AM

omg, there are Pret A Mangers in America?? Why have I never seen one? Aaagh. They should be EVERYWHERE.

Posted by: foodnerd at August 27, 2005 12:10 PM
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