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2022-02-12 14:23:17

Why does lunch on airplanes always seem tasteless?

Why does lunch on airplanes always seem tasteless?

Everyone who has ever used the airline to overcome long distances, got the opportunity to try airplane food. In most cases, the experience is rather negative, because the food served by the crew of the aircraft is very different in taste from the "terrestrial". These differences, as a rule, are for the worse. Unpleasantly surprised passengers constantly ask a logical question: why is the food on the plane worse than usual? Are inexperienced cooks allowed to cook or does the airline save on food for its customers?

The true reasons why airplane food has so many differences from the "terrestrial" are several. And they are completely unrelated to the inability of the chef to cook a delicious dish and the excessive economy of the airline!

At high altitude, tastes are perceived differently

Studies of scientists simulating the flight of an airplane show that the sense of smell and taste buds begin to distort taste and smell when a person is at an altitude of more than 10 thousand meters. The perception of the basic taste of food - salinity and sweetness - is reduced by about 30%, which makes it seem to passengers that the food served is tasteless.

Of great importance for the perception of tastes is the situation in the aircraft, composed of key factors: reduced pressure, extremely dry air and constant engine noise in the cabin. When the plane gains altitude of more than 10 thousand meters, the humidity in the cabin drops to 10 percent, which is lower than in most deserts.

Although the perception of bitter, spicy or sour practically does not change, for a person at altitude the taste of food almost completely disappears, because up to 80% of what is considered to be taste is actually the smell. But the extremely low humidity in the plane does not allow the olfactory receptors to work at full strength.

Based on research, many airlines began to add much more spices and flavor enhancers to their dishes so that passengers at altitude could experience at least some taste resembling food from the ground. Such recipes are completely unsuitable for use in normal times, because the amount of spices coupled with normally working taste buds will make the dish inedible.

Features of cooking for two hundred people at the same time

The technology of providing the aircraft with provisions is extremely complex and forces to make many concessions. Safety precautions strictly prohibit cooking in flight, so food is harvested on the ground, frozen and delivered on board, where a dish heated in a convection oven is served to passengers. Cooling and freezing of products always entails a loss of most of the taste, and at altitude this feeling increases several times.

The production of food for the masses with special serving conditions requires strict adherence to the required standards. In dishes there should be a minimum of allergens and ingredients that will not tolerate freezing and subsequent defrosting.

Recipes from the ground are not suitable for airplanes

Chefs engaged in the development of specialized dishes for air travel, talk about constant experiments aimed at creating recipes that even in the air will not be much inferior to restaurant dishes. To do this, laboratories are being built, where the process of creating food suitable for consumption in the aircraft is underway, finding the best way to transfer dishes on board while maintaining good taste.

To a greater extent, such procedures are focused on first-class and business class customers, with whom work is carried out directly, their tastes are taken into account. Food for representatives of economy class will, of course, be less refined.

Bet on umami – the fifth taste

The fifth flavor, called "umami", is found in foods such as: tomatoes, sardines, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, parmesan or soy sauce. This taste sensation becomes stronger when climbing, so the world's leading chefs preparing food for airplanes took note of this fact and began to add more ingredients containing the fifth taste to food. And people who are in flight unexpectedly begin to have a temporary sympathy for dishes or drinks containing these products.

Some air carriers offer their passengers not only an adapted list of dishes, but also musical accompaniment, in which it is more pleasant to eat food. It's no secret that the taste of many dishes is highly dependent on the noise surrounding the eater. The constant hum of the engine worsens the perception of food, makes it more crunchy in sensations, which is not always liked by airline customers, because at this moment they can eat, for example, pate. Therefore, passengers at lunchtime are offered headphones with noise insulation, in which music will play, the most suitable for a certain type of dishes and improving its perception.

What kind of wine is supplied to the planes?

Standard wine and champagne are also reluctant to be loaded on board, because its recipe, which is to the taste of connoisseurs on earth, will not open at a high altitude. Drinks acquire excessive viscosity and acid, which completely spoil the impression of tasting.

To solve the problem, it was decided to provide passengers with a wine list, the wines in which initially have a strong fruit bouquet and low acid. With champagne, the situation is more complicated, because it is quite acidic by default, so the airlines decided to warn those ordering this drink about a possible change in taste.

The head of a wine distributor from the UK recommends ordering alcoholic beverages at the beginning of the flight, since when climbing, reduced humidity will negatively affect the taste of the wine. The properties of wine will almost evaporate, because dry air will "dry" the passenger.

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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