• Airplane food: Why does it taste worse?

Coffee, fruit or a simple sandwich, it doesn’t matter if it’s super tasty; airplane food completely changes its taste, but why does this happen? Today we talk about airplane food.

Why airplane food tastes different?

The secret of the difference in flavours lies in the alteration that cabin pressurisation produces in our sense of smell, which is intrinsically related to taste.

When we savour food, it is not only taste that matters, but there is also a kind of indirect sense of smell that serves to reaffirm what our taste buds interpret.

According to the president of the Spanish Olfactory Network, Laura López-Mascaraque, pressurised cabins significantly affect our sense of smell. Firstly, the humidity inside the cabins is much lower than outside, causing the nostrils to dry out. Pressure is another factor and, in aircraft, it is lower than on the earth’s surface.

Another factor to consider is stress; for people with a fear of flying, the loss of taste can be intensified, as their entire nervous system is on alert.

Although it varies from person to person, roughly speaking, we can say that 30% of the taste buds “go to sleep” during a flight.

How is airplane food cooked?

Airline food is never prepared in the air, but is made in kitchens near or inside airports. Once ready, it is packaged and transported by truck to the aircraft.

Gate Gourmet, the largest airline catering company, which provides services for airlines such as Iberia and British Airways, prepares an average of 25,000 meals a day; the figure can be as high as 30,000 in the summer months.

However, there are other airlines that have their own catering company, such as Emirates, based in Dubai, which has Emirates Flight Catering.

Not fully cooked

To prevent food from drying out and losing flavour or properties, airline food is not fully cooked, but only partially cooked.

The planes are equipped with steam ovens in which the food is finished cooking, so that it tastes as if it has just been cooked.

Of all foods, meats are cooked the least on the ground; between 30% and 60% is done to finish cooking inside the aircraft.

Making food taste good on the plane

One of the biggest challenges facing the chefs who prepare the meals eaten on aeroplanes is to make them taste good to passengers.

To do this, chefs must prepare food with more salt and more seasoning. Approximately 15% more salt is added, as the capacity of our taste buds decreases by 30% when we fly.

Why is there always chicken or pasta to eat on the plane?

Chicken or pasta? For seasoned travellers, this phrase will be very familiar, won’t it? You see, nothing is random, there is a whole series of studies and procedures behind aeroplane food.

Thus, in the search for the perfect menu, it was discovered that chicken and pasta are the foods whose taste is least affected. And they have become the basis of virtually all in-flight menus.

Tomato juice, another in-flight meal staple

Tomato juice has become the most famous drink on board aeroplanes. While most foodstuffs have a reduced flavour, strangely enough, the opposite is true for tomato juice, which improves its properties.

It is also a very refreshing and nutritious drink, perfect for combating the reduction in air humidity.

Although it is true that it is not very popular in certain countries, Spain among them, in others it is consumed in huge quantities.

As a curious fact, the German airline Lufthansa declared that more than 2 million litres of tomato juice are consumed on its flights every year.

Wait for us to tell you in a easier unit of measurement: that’s almost an Olympic swimming pool full of tomato juice, ok?

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