Elaborate charcuterie boards and the age of Instagram go hand-in-hand. Maybe you’ve noticed the meat and cheese boards in your own social media feeds steadily growing larger and more unmanageable over the past few years, suddenly studded with real flowers and prosciutto shaped like rosettes and towering piles of raw zucchini that add color but no flavor. They look like something that belongs on Denethor’s table, but they’re always a hit at parties, and so they shall continue to mutate.
One person receiving accolades for her charcuterie artistry is Marissa Mullen, who posted a video that recently went viral of a beautiful spread she assembled on her airplane tray table while in flight, made from ingredients entirely out of her carry-on bag (right down to the TSA-approved serving board). This isn’t the first time she’s made the most of a decidedly unculinary setting; Mullen regularly posts photos with the hashtag #inflightcheeseplatechallenge to demonstrate how to create ’grammable meals at 30,000 feet. Good for her.
We’re not all Marissa Mullen. And that’s okay. (Can you imagine how much more meaty our airplanes would smell if we were?) Some of us don’t have room in our carry-on for a book of 200 crossword puzzles and a brick of smoked gouda and exactly 1 ounce of fig jam. In those cases, we’re forced to be scrappy and resourceful with what we have on hand. One time during the in-flight snack service I discovered, to my delight, that I had a small single-serve peanut butter packet in my purse that I’d snagged from a diner a few days earlier, and you’d better believe I used it to jazz up my single allotted United Airlines Stroopwafel with some extra protein. Another time, I requested that my travel companion order two creams with their coffee, neither of which they needed; these I added to my thin and watery in-flight hot chocolate, which helped only a little, but was worth a try.
If you have airplane dining hacks that you don’t mind unleashing from your beautiful brains, we are here to learn from you.