An "outrageous" meal

My most “outrageous” meal was a family meal enjoyed on an Air Force C-130 plane.

Our family of five (my husband and I with our three children) lived overseas for nine years in conjunction with his Army career. We were fortunate to be able to travel free-of-charge on the military aircraft that ferried supplies to and from Europe. The C-130 is a huge, slow plane that can carry large objects such as tanks or armored personnel carriers underneath while in the top are seats for those lucky enough to get one. It is necessary to be at the military airport early in the day and then wait there until seats might be available on a plane going out. If enough seats don’t materialize, then a family has to leave for the night and come back the next day. This was a big adventure for everyone because it was possible to get stuck after your first trip and then have to wait days or weeks to get a fight back home.

We (our three kids were at the time teenagers) decided to try a trip back to the States to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday. We did get our tickets the first day and were so excited to board the plane and walk past a very large fire engine on our way to the ladder that took us to the passenger compartment above. (Do you call it “upstairs” when you have to go up a ladder to get there?) We all put on the ear protectors that were necessary because it is very loud inside the passenger area and settled into our seats. Odd already because all the seats faced backwards so you would slide toward the front of the seat when the plane took off .

Now you are probably wondering what all this has to do with a meal, but everyone knows that ambiance matters when you dine out, so you needed the setting. The all-night marathon meal began as soon as we were settled in our seats. A number of young airmen (probably also teenagers) were serving as stewards, and they began immediately to bring out the food – soda, chips, pop-tarts, candy, etc. Our kids were delighted when there seemed to be no end to this teenagers’ dream – endless junk food delivered hour after hour. We also were offered a variety of frozen TV dinners which could be heated up for us, but what kid would choose a TV dinner over soda and chips? In any case, occasionally through the night, I would open one eye and see the junk food still arriving and be somewhat outraged, but also happy to be spared a trip with grumpy teenagers.

By now you have probably guessed. While the meal was “outrageous” to me, it was a true banquet to my kids. We all survived the experience, and the kids, now in their 50s, were just reminiscing a couple of weeks ago about how wonderful that trip was with all the unlimited junk food. So the moral of this story is that the same meal may be outrageous for some and high cuisine for others!