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April 03, 2012

What Book to NOT Read While Flying

Heat_bill_bufordThe 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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Related Topics: Air Travel · Food and Drink


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Too bad you didn't make a bee-line for Salumi when you got to Seattle. This little slice of Italian heaven is run by Mario Batali's dad.

Try reading “Alive” when taking a flight to anywhere!

I was in Vegas when I was called to come home because my dad had died. The movie was Field of Dreams, I was a baseball player and dad and me played catch every night of the summer. Last scene, "Wanna have a catch Dad?" Spent hour and a half in the first class bathroom.

Richard Preston, "The Hot Zone".
You'll be fashioning a makeshift mask from kleenex before the plan lands.

I finished reading 'Marley and Me' while on a plane for a business trip and ended up sobbing hysterically next to some poor fellow passenger who must have thought I was losing my mind. Sad books on planes = terrible idea.

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