On Qantas flight QF728 from Sydney to Ayers Rock (Uluru), we were given a turkey and cranberry sandwich.
The front of the packet identifies the ingredients as "Panini, Turkey (28%), Cranberry Sauce (10%), Cucumber, Lettuce".
The back of the packet, however, is a whole other story. The panini - that's a kind of bread, by the way, which can be simply and deliciously made with just flour, water, salt and yeast - contains 14 ingredients that I couldn't be bothered to write down. They had names like "flour treatment agents", whatever that means, and some of them were just numbers.
The "turkey", by contrast, contains 20 ingredients.
Twenty! And some of those are truly eye-watering. Here's the full list:
Turkey Breast, Water, Acidity Regulators 326, 262, Salt, Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch, Sugar, Sucrose, Mineral Salts 451, 450, Vegetable Gum 407, Dextrose, Maple Syrup, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, Preservative 223, Vegetable Oil, Flavours, Colours (1500)
Now I don't know about you (that's the way this whole author/reader thing works! Unless of course I do know you, in which case: Hi!) but I really can't understand why acidity regulators have a place in a turkey slice. I've never found turkey to be that acidic, have you? And what's going on with the maple syrup? On a pancake, sure! In the suitcase of a first-time visitor to Canada, why not? But in a turkey sandwich?! And that's only one of four types of sugar that are in there.
And whilst we're on some kind of rant about it (which apparently at least one of us is), what's with the rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch?! Surely I'm getting enough starch from the bread, wouldn't you agree? But no. Obviously I need more, and for convenience sake I need it injected into my turkey, so I don't have to worry about getting hold of it myself. And while you're at it, could you squeeze some water in there, too? I'm not feeling very hydrated today.
But the one that takes the Jaffle McSnaffle Golden Biscuit is that one ingredient listed second to last: "flavours". Presumably by the time you've squeezed all that other crap into the turkey, it doesn't really taste very turkeylike. It needs a bit of a boost - an artificial boost! - to make sure it tastes like turkey. Which it probably did before someone starting messing around, injecting sugar and starch and tapioca into it.
The cranberry sauce, by the by, "only" contains 3 ingredients: water, cranberries, and sucrose, making it - strangely - the simplest major ingredient. And arguably, therefore, the most wholesome.
And that, ladies and gentlemen of the blogjury, is why I sometimes ask for a vegetarian meal on a flight. Or, more specifically - and to use the airline lingo - an ovo-lacto vegetarian meal.
On this particular flight, I wish that I had.