Menu of the Week: Pan Am’s Transatlantic Service, 1973

Editor
A classy meal on a flight across the Atlantic
NYPL

The menu, which was in French, was highlighted by coq au vin and "a selection of cigarettes."

By 1973, a little bit of the magical luster of commercial air travel had begun to rub off. From its earliest days through most of the 1960s, flying the friendly skies meant smoking lounges, ultramodern terminals, and super-expensive airfare. But with the 1970s came less expensive access to airfare, and with it grungy, smoky airports, and awfully tacky stewardess uniforms. But if you happened to find yourself flying across the Atlantic on Pan Am in 1973, it was like the glory days hadn’t gone anywhere.

It sounds like meal service was a classy affair. We found this menu from Aug. 6’s Flight 119, and it’s clear that an effort was made to class it up (although the French might just be because the flight was heading to or from France). The meal started with a salad, then was followed by coq au vin ("half spring chicken, mushroom caps, baby onions, and lardons braised in a red wine sauce"), along with vegetables in butter, a "crisp dinner roll" with butter, then an ambiguous "dessert," followed by coffee, regular or decaf (Sanka, a reminder that this was the '70s, after all).

"Light refreshments" were also served after the movie, and the booze list, at front and center, didn’t skirt the fact that it was a priority for many to drink and smoke as much as humanly possible on their flight. The finest anachronism of all, though? The elegant offering of "a selection of cigarettes." 

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