International Airplane Breakfasts Go Local with Traditional Flavors

A Traditional Costa Rican Breakfast on United Airlines


This is the best breakfast I've ever had on an airplane.

On a recent United-Continental flight from San Josè, Costa Rica to Newark Liberty I scored a last-minute upgrade that landed me in early-morning Bloody Mary bliss. This is the first time I'm experiencing the new United Airlines after the systems officially merged on March 3rd. As an in-flight foodie, I immediately notice the change in flatware: Fruit bowl and bread dish = United. Wine glass and plate = Continental. I'm not condoning this AT ALL, but if you're a "collector" of airline souvenirs, you'd better get a jump on it. That adorable Continental blue-rimmed flatware will soon vanish from tray tables everywhere.

Aaaand....Back to the breakfast. When I received my brand-spanking new, shiny black United menu, I couldn't believe my eyes. Oh, the choices!


Strawberry-filled French toast sounds like a frequent flier's dream, but I couldn't get past the scrambled eggs. These were no ordinary airplane eggs. These were Costa Rican eggs!

These on-board eggs are served with traditional Central American accompaniments: black beans, fried plantains and a tomato cup filled with shredded beef. I had to have them.


This unique breakfast platter tastes infinitely better than it photographs. The eggs are fluffy and light - better than the airplane average. The plantains are sweet, and the beans are full of spicy flavor. The shredded beef-stuffed tomato is in a league of its is by far the weirdest thing I've ever eaten on an airplane, and it is fan-freaking-tastic.

In Costa Rica, this flavorful carne in salsa, a tomato-based shredded beef is a local specialty. It is served with everything from freshly made tortillas to spicy potato hash. I can't even believe I'm eating it on the plane...and how absolutely delicious it is. The warm tomato offsets the saltiness of the beef. I mix it into my scrambled eggs, occasionally taking a bite of sweet plantain. 

I loved the local flavors United brought to my morning tray table. I look back on this inflight meal as an unexpected foodie farewell to a weekend in paradise. I don't know if incorporating traditional cuisine on short-haul international flights (I'm speaking specifically about the International Business market as opposed to long-haul BusinessFirst) is a by-product of the new United, but I'm already a big fan.


Looks amazing, though not as good as the green burrito! :)