The dish – a mix of Maftoul and other couscous, tomatoes and cucumber seasoned with parsley, mint and lemon vinaigrette – was formerly called “Palestinian couscous salad” on the menu…until the airline was deluged with passenger complaints.
Independent The offending name has since been changed to “couscous salad” after various complaints. Some social media users threatened to boycott the airline, accusing Virgin of being “terrorist sympathisers”.
Dani Williams tweeted a picture of the menu in December 2017, writing:
Anthony Den tweeted: “Bearing in mind Jews have lived on the land you say they now occupy for over 3,000 years maybe it should be called Jewish Salad.”
Try telling virgin Atlantic. They called it Palestinian on their menu recently. Bearing in mind Jews have lived on the land you say they now occupy for over 3000 years maybe it should be called Jewish Salad
— (((ant))) (@anthonyden1) December 27, 2017
Meanwhile, David Garnelas posted a picture of the menu in the Israel Advocacy Movement Facebook group with the caption: “VIRGIN ATLANTIC. I thought this was an Israeli salad…obviously Branson showing his true colours…Israelis must boycott Virgin and Israel must ask for an explanation. When I complained the stewardess tried to take back the menu from me.”
Despite the fact that the salad features Maftoul, a traditional Palestinian grain made from bulgur and whole wheat flour, Virgin Atlantic has removed the reference in its in-flight menu.
The airline said in a statement: “Our customers’ experience on board is a key focus and we are constantly refreshing our food offerings on our flights. We recently introduced a Maftoul salad on board our flights. It includes a mix of Maftoul and other couscous, complemented by tomatoes and cucumber and seasoned with parsley, mint and lemon vinaigrette.
“We were aware that Maftoul is not a widely known ingredient – so the dish was listed as a ‘Palestinian couscous salad’, and later as a ‘Couscous salad’. We’d like to reassure all customers that our sole intention was to bring new flavours on board, and never to cause offense through the naming or renaming of the dish.”
You can’t get more Palestinian cuisine than maftoul (couscous), national Palestinian dish. Virgin should not have caved in to falsification of the name of the Palestinian cuisine to please twisted and hate-filled passengers. Virgin is morally culpable.
— Bassam Mansour (@BmansourB) February 11, 2018