My worst meal ever was on a C-130 military mail plane over the Swiss Alps, on a return flight to Turkey. I was eleven. The plane was not pressurized, and therefore had to fly at a particularly low altitude to maintain healthy oxygen levels for the passengers. It was unbelievably cold and the constant bobbing over mountaintops gave one a shivering dizzy flu-like feeling. The disorientation was increased by the need for earplugs and the constant drop and rise in elevation, and the side to side rocking due to the netted jumpseats we sat in. This continued for hours and hours. When mealtime arrived, the navigator/flight attendant/cabin cook/live entertainment plunked a congealed salisbury steak TV dinner in our laps with a grin. I recall just looking at grayish slab of meat with its spurious char lines, suspended in a puddle of gelatinous lard and frozen green beans. The aroma of the meal was overwhelmingly rank and inescapable. I think I managed one bite, at the most. My mom had a bag of brotchen, but they were frozen solid and inedible, even after being stuffed in my mittens.
I am grateful that every single meal I’ve had since has been better than that.