In-Flight Masala

New York City to London

“What sodas do you have?” I ask the Air India flight attendant.

“Only Schweppes,” he says, cracking a can of soda water.

It’s that and a bag of channa dal.

The Mongol Rally starts in exactly five days. We fly direct to London, where we’ll stay with my friend Emily a few days and make sure our Subaru is fit for the journey. Then all the teams, including Mr. Dinosaur, will gather in Hyde Park and begin driving toward France.

This is officially the inaugural meal of the trip, or rather, the inaugural snack. It’s heavily salted, fried lentils that taste a lot like Fritos, and I’m happy to report that it beat the socks off a mini bag of peanuts.

A while later I get a crackly chapati, yogurt, bread and butter, steaming okra-and-potatoes korma with cashews atop rice pilaf, a limp salad filled with olives, and a rice pudding–esque dessert.

I am pleasantly surprised to taste some heat in my korma. I spoon some onto my chapati and eat it like an open-faced sandwich.

“I’m liking airline food again,” says my friend Mims.

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