Nutrition

Why airline food tastes different in air?

It’s flying back to the home season. If you are reading this article, you are probably among thousands of other people planning to go back home. For that, you might be booking an airline ticket. Because that is most convenient or well there is no other option available.

Flying in an aeroplane is great. You are provided with a range of facilities. From a comfortable seat, in-flight entertainment to airline food. Airline Food? Some people don’t really consider that as a “facility.” They think that the food that is served is useless. Useless in the sense that it tastes so different than it would have tasted otherwise.

What about it?

If you have wondered why airline food tastes any differently, then this article is all you need to read. In the first case scenario, you can’t really blame the airline company for it. It really isn’t in their control. When you cruise in the air at about 30,000 feet you are bound to go through certain bodily changes. That can comprise of a varied taste in your taste buds as well as a different perception of smell altogether. Collectively this results in the airline food not apparently being that pleasing.

Experts have been able to present a number of explanations for this phenomenon. Since flavour is your taste buds sensation to saltiness and sweetness, both are altered when you are in the air. It’s not only about the food you eat. Even drinks that are served to you may have a completely different taste. According to a study, some passengers doubted the originality of the Coke they were given!

Let us now consider the scientific reasoning behind the different taste of airline food.

Low Air Pressure

The first thing you will experience when you set foot inside the cabin is a drop in the air pressure. This combined with an extremely low level of humidity greatly affects your taste sensation. Humidity may drop to the extent where the dryness is actually equivalent to living in a desert. Well, the problem has just started. It will increase the more you go up in the air. Prepare yourself for that!

As a result of this low air pressure and humidity, your ability to taste things drop by almost 30%. It is to say that foods will taste 30% less sweet or saltier compared to normal circumstances. This was confirmed in a study conducted by the Lufthansa airlines to investigate the cause. The company had been deeply disturbed by the number of complaints they had been receiving. Interesting enough, the study also revealed that the spice, sour and bitterness level may, in fact, remain the same. The problem is not restricted to your ability to taste. Even your sensation to smell may get greatly altered. Altogether, low air pressure is one primary reason for a different food taste.

The Different Method of Cooking

You are mistaken if you think airline food is cooked in the air. Actually, that would really make the problem worse since no gas flames are allowed. The airline company has to comply with certain cooking standards. Firstly, they are supposed to cook everything on the ground just a few hours before flying. What is distinctive, is that everything is mass produced and then sealed in foils. The packed food is then warmed in ovens. Experts argue that mass producing food in such a way can actually alter the taste of the food. Even the ovens are not the same as present on the ground. These are convection ovens that give out hot, dry air.

Fortunately, this problem is easy to overcome. Some airlines have tested ways to provide passengers with food with better taste. New equipment which allows for pressurized cooking is now available in the market. While you think this is true for all types of cabins, actually that applies for business and first class only. Now airlines have virtual kitchens with all the modern facilities. The pressure in these kitchens is forcefully dropped. The food is then cooked in this pressure and served in carts with similar conditions.

So if you are looking for delicious food then spend some money and buy a business/first class ticket.

Umami (The Fifth Taste)

Have you ever wondered what umami is? It is the fifth taste sensation that you usually witness in particular foods like sardines, seaweed, tomato and soy sauce. While all other sensations are negatively impacted, your umami flavour may actually be enhanced when in the air. That is the reason why some clever passengers order tomato juice to experience a better nourishing taste. In other instances, airlines will often exhaust their menus with food items with the umami property.

Nasal Sprays

Your nasal and sinuses do also have a considerable role to play in achieving a pleasant taste. Most airlines will distribute the spray in order to clear off the sinuses. By doing so the passengers were able to enjoy the taste of food. British Airways was the first airline to make use of this approach. However, this proved to be widely unpopular which led to the company giving up this thing altogether. The reasons thought might have been plenty. One of them includes that the spray was related to a number of other side effects.

Use of cutlery

Another approach that airlines are now considering is to shift to different cutlery. It is widely believed that cutlery may also have a significant role to play in that regard. It may, in turn, have a great effect on how the food ultimately tastes. The companies are deciding to give up on plastic cutlery altogether. Heavy plastic can make food taste worse. It is being replaced with lighter non-plastic plates and glass to yield a better outcome.

The Acidic and Tannic Property

For a lot of airlines that serve alcoholic beverages on air, there is a significant problem. Passengers would complain that wine, in particular, is able to lose its original property. It usually tastes more fruity and acidic. Therefore the taste becomes widely unpleasant in air. Which thereby requires to look for a viable alternative for achieving a better outcome. One of the reasons that is attributed to this problem is also the presence of low air pressure and humidity.

To achieve a meaningful solution, airlines have replaced more acidic beverages with less tannic and acidic ones. That is one reason why you won’t really find champagne on air because of its high acidic property. Moreover, to feel less nauseous, it is advisable to drink wine before you take off.

 

Samuel Mayer

Samuel has been part of Top Health Journal for quite a while now. He has immense interest in medicine and thoroughly enjoys writing about this theme. His philosophy is: write simple and short, always assuming your reader to be a layman who knows nothing about the topic. Twitter- @SamuelM54534849

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