Friday, August 14, 2015

Passenger of the Day: Mary or Caesar; What's in a Name?

Catering on an aircraft can always be spotty. I've yet to tour the kitchens and catering facilities, but I know from watching them board the aircraft that it must be quite a performance to stage everything, load it into our serving carts, strap them into the back of the lift trucks and transport them to the plane.

After boarding, one of the first things a flight attendant will do besides safety checks is to begin checking the carts and ovens for catering items. Of utmost importance are the crew meals; certainly for us, but also for the pilots. There are certain people I know, and I won't name any names, but you know who you are, who get a little grumpy when hungry. Neither we nor our passengers like a grumpy pilot!

The catering truck arrives.
Often we are missing items. Some, we can make due without. Others, we have to call for, such as missing meals, which is why we have to check our catering items first. It's the times we get items out of the ordinary that make the day more exciting.

It's not uncommon to see wine glasses from other airlines, and from time to time, I've even found glasses from rail service! I've seen napkins from other carriers, as well. More common, yet, are sodas from other countries. Coke Lite from China? Sure, why not.

Recently, I was in Canada on a nice layover. We started our day checking our catering in the aft galley. Everything was there and things were going fine. We performed our first service, picked up the cabin and had a few minutes to enjoy our crew meal and relax before setting things up for our second service.

My flying partner set up the cart and noticed an odd can in one of the bins from the back of the supply cart. Rob pulled it out and read it aloud, “Clamato.”
“Huh?” I asked.
“They gave us Clamato juice. Two cans. The Canadians love Clamato. This must be from Air Canadianland. It's made with clam juice. I'm going to show Seela.” Seela was our purser, working up in first class. Rob went up and returned a few minutes later with the can. I finished my meal and as I put the tray in the trash cart, he opened the can to give it a try. He made a sour face, waited a minute while looking towards the ceiling, and took another sip. “Nah, I don't like it,” he reported.

I grabbed a cup and also gave it a try. It was very salty, but not bad. It certainly wasn't something I'd drink on it's own. “It'd be great in a bloody Mary,” I told him.

We continued setting up the cart and I found another can of Clamato in my bin, as well as a can of regular tomato juice I'd never seen before. We served our passengers the drink of their choice, and as we neared the last few rows, I heard a woman ask Rob for Clamato. As he was pouring it, the lady next to me says, “I would like a Clamato.” I'm thinking, good grief, what's with all the Clamato?

“See?” said Rob, “They love it.”

Catering knocks and checks for visual confirmation of a disarmed door.
As I poured the lady's Clamato juice, I informed her that we normally don't have it and that I've never seen it before. In fact, I had only just tried it. She said that she had seen Rob carrying it, so assumed we were serving it. She asked if I'd had a Caesar before. “Well, I know who Caesar is...a very smart talking ape,” I told her.
“What?” My Planet of the Apes reference went over her head.
“Never mind. Are we talking about a drink?” I asked.
“Yes, it's a great drink, I love them.”

I asked her to tell me more about this... Caesar. “You salt a rim, use Clamato juice, vodka, celery salt and...” I interrupted her.
“A bloody Mary?” I asked.
She had never heard of a bloody Mary. I told her how much I loved them with pickled okra. Rob interjected at this point his dislike of okra...too slimy. 
“I never liked Rob,” I joked to her. We all laughed.

Rob showed her a can of spicy tomato juice- the one we normally serve. She was intrigued, so he opened it to give her a taste. She liked it, but not as much as her Clamato. He wound up buying her a vodka, so that she could contrast and compare, making a bloody Mary and a Caesar. I brought her a packet of pepper, saying, normally I like mine spicy with a dash of hot sauce, but this should help. She liked that even more. I also informed her that if she wanted, she could use tequila instead, but that's called a bloody Maria. She thought that was cute.

In the end, we had made her day with a simple can of Clamato and a chance to try a bloody Mary. Thanks to a little catering mistake and receiving a few cans meant for another airline, I made a new friend on our flight from Canada.
Planes at SFO

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