You probably wondered why airplane food is often tasteless and dull. Of course you cannot just blame every meal on board, however, it is just not the same as on land! Can you relate? There are a lot of factors that can change your sense of taste, but let’s have a look at the most important ones.
Flying at high altitudes in the sky affects our taste buds and let’s us think that the food isn’t good. But why? It rattles, it’s loud and during the climb you feel the pressure. Especially the air pressure, the humidity and the reduced oxygen can stress the body.
During flight, the ability to taste sweet and salty decreases by about 30%, because, among other things, the cold and dry air causes the nasal passages to dry out. This can be compared to a cold, where we can’t fully perceive the taste either.
But the noise level also plays an important role. Stress caused by noise restricts the taste buds. Thus, both factors, air and noise, cause the taste buds to be affected during the flight.
Food and drinks are now chosen according to different standards. Wine that we drink on the plane would probably be considered pure juice on the ground because of its sweetness. Because during the flight, the sweetness is perceived as much weaker. On the other hand, we would consider bread that is fresh and crunchy to be dry and inedible on the plane.
These influences weaken the taste buds for sweet and salty. However, it is different with bitter tastes. The sensitivity to these tastes remains with us because recognizing bitter food serves to protect us from poisoning (poison often tastes bitter, this is why our body is able to recognize it).
A study made in 2015 found out that the taste phenomenon is reversed with umami. Umami is one of the five taste categories along with salty, sweet, sour and bitter with no negative effect on our taste buds. So, next time you are on a flight, drink a tomato juice. Since tomato juice is considered umami, it actually could be really tasty! If you have the option to get a curry meal, pick that one. Curry meals are very intense and this is the reason why many flavors retain even in high altitudes. Give them a try and bon appetit!
akademie-sport-gesundheit.de, businessinsider.com and lovefood.com
Cover photo: gnometrotting.com