Carry on Cuisine

               Food Hall

I have a long history of carrying foods through airports. In fact, I have a long history of carrying foods with me wherever I go. I care about what I eat, not just for the tastes but because I feel better when I eat in a mindful healthy way, especially on the road. In the past, I have packed sandwiches or some fruit or nuts. Earlier episodes of my now legendary food travels included carrying fresh beignets from Cafe du Monde in New Orleans (where we directed our cab to stop early one morning on the way to the airport), deli sandwiches from Wolfie's in Miami (imagine the smell of garlic pickle and pastrami permeating the cabin), a smoked duck from Zabar's in New York and a whole fresh Pacific salmon wrapped in multiple layers of newspaper and ice. 

My favorite carry on cuisine was the brunch we ordered from Stars Restaurant in advance by phone on our way to San Francisco airport from Big Sur. We were to board a long cross country flight and I certainly wanted a tasty alternative to the usual cardboard fare. I recall our meal included curried Cornish hen. These were the days before cellphones and GPS so you gotta know I was determined.

Back when I owned Proof of the Pudding in Atlanta, where the airport is one of the most travelled in the world, I worked on a concept to sell “Carry-on Cuisine”..individual  gourmet meals all cleverly encased in a container that looked like a suitcase.  I never actually developed the project, but the current owners very smartly run a Proof of the Pudding kiosk in one of the terminals there now.

This week I have to share my delight at what I found in Terminal C last Thursday morning at La Guardia airport- the Cibo Food Hall. I arrived bleary eyed around 6:30 AM for my flight with food already picked up from Dean and Deluca and Le Pain Quotidien the evening before- some amazing nutty gluten free slices of bread, a little chunky egg salad to top it off and half carton of sheep's milk yogurt from my grandson's stash. 

snacks

But lo and behold, a Food Hall sign alerted me to an enormous selection of food. And it was fresh recognizable food, with many individually packaged name brands that I love in a space easy to navigate. No struggling through crowded aisles with a rollaboard.  Wandering through, I found a salad bar, a hot breakfast bar, a coffee bar, a gorgeous section of fresh fruits individually wrapped, and hundreds of easy to grab and go packages of some healthy natural items. I didn't actually try any of the hot fresh food or the pizza or burgers, but maybe another time. At the self checkout, I was assisted by a lovely female attendant who helped me scan and bag my items while I juggled my carry-on luggage to extract my wallet and credit card. I was so impressed with how easily it all worked that I had to snap a few photos on the way out.

I have been noticing that airport food has been improving greatly over the years and this new concept certainly got my attention and my money. Meanwhile, I ate the the bread and egg salad when I arrived at  Boston Logan airport and had my snacks ready for the three hour bus and ferry ride to Martha's Vineyard. When travel can be so hectic and unpredictable, thanks to these well thought out conveniences, all was well in my personal travel bubble. 

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