The flight from DC to Seattle lasts nearly five hours, which is almost long enough to sate yourself with a free snack mix and then grab some half-decent seafood in Seattle—which had been my plan last week when I flew from Reagan National to Bend, Oregon, on Alaska Air. Grab a big lunch and then a decent dinner while laid over in Seattle. Until, that is, I got on the plane and started reading Heat.
Bill Buford’s book chronicles the author's obsession with Italian cuisine, a months-long path that starts in Mario Batali’s New York restaurant Babbo and ends with him working under a Dante-quoting butcher (the best butcher in the world, no less), all of it written with nominal flourish and a true passion for food, both where it originates and how it’s prepared. Midway through the book—and the flight, as it happened—Bufford visits Italy for the first time, and encounters the cuisine that has made that part of Europe so utterly, justifiable famous. And as I read through his descriptions of the fine smoked meats and the right way to prepare bolognese, it was all over. Seven dollars later, I was inhaling the poorest substitute of what I was reading: a pre-packaged fruit and cheese plate (they were out of the meat plate). Reading a well-written book on food while traveling assures that you’re going to eat whatever the airline offers, and it’s never going to measure up.
And when I reached Seattle, I also had fish tacos. Again, a poor substitute for Italian fare. But the one-hour jaunt from Seattle to Redmond, Oregon, on Horizon Air did include a FREE glass of microbrew beer from Bend, my eventual destination. And that helped shift me toward a different world of enjoyment.
What books do you always avoid while flying? Tell us in the comments section.
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