Almost everyone who’s been on a plane has, at some point, wondered about the food – why it tastes different or where it’s cooked. It turns out there is an extensive science and art that goes into airplane food as we know it.
Before you decide to take the risk of trying out one of the microwaveable meals when on your next flight, we recommend checking the information below so that you know exactly what you’re putting in your mouth next time you are so high up in the sky.
This Needs More Salt
The human ability to taste salt goes down 20 to 30 percent at high altitudes. Our ability to detect sweet flavors also drops 15 to 20 percent. A combination of low pressure, low humidity, and loud engines affects our ability to taste.
The Noise Matters
Studies from Cornell University demonstrate how a noisy environment, such as the cabin of an airplane, can drastically alter perceptions of food. Listening to music on your headphones, or wearing noise-canceling headphones, can make airplane food taste better!
Umami Never Dies
The only taste that remains unaffected on flights is ‘Umami.’ A favorite with Japanese chefs, umami is the savory flavor in foods like tomatoes, shellfish, spinach, and soy sauce. Several in-flight meals have menus featuring foods rich in tomato or fish for a good reason.
Food Is Prepared Well in Advance
Airlines get their food prepared 10 hours before or sometimes, up to 72 hours earlier after which it stays frozen in a blast chiller. International food safety standards permit airlines to freeze food for up to five days. This may seem disconcerting but it’s completely safe.
Really? Sandwiches and Fruit?
The first in-flight meal was a packed lunch of sandwiches and fruit. It was served on board the Handley-Page flight from London to Paris on October 11, 1919. Airplane food signaled an exciting era of civil aviation after the First World War.
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