In-flight meals

I remember my first in-flight meal really well. It actually was my first flight ever and that made for a really special, almost magical experience. As I caught more and more flights, this magic touch started to fade and I found out that the food wasn’t that good at all. It just tastes so ‘flat’. I just assumed that they were saving money by adding fewer herbs or were afraid to use too much salt because of the passenger’s health. I know how stupid that may sound now. It’s not their fault, it’s you.

German researchers found out that your taste works differently at 10 km height. Our ability to recognize sweet or sugary flavors diminishes with 15-20% and for salty flavors, this reduces even up to 80%! The reason for this reduction in our taste in the aircraft is due to cabin pressure and dry aircraft air. As a result, we smell less and, as you may know, the smell is about 80 percent of our total taste.

For this article, I could join the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines on a flight to Rio De Janeiro, Brasil. It appears that airlines have already responded to the phenomenon and are doing everything to make their food taste the same as ‘on the ground’. First a little catering-explanation:

The used trolleys are collected at Schiphol (Amsterdam), the waste is sorted out for recycling and the trolleys are washed completely and prepared for the next flight.

The meals themselves are developed by chefs and then on a large scale, but prepared by hand. There are some natural flavor enhancers added to the fresh meals like onion powder and Curcuma. The portions are weighed manually and from there the work is taken over by machines. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNQ-seTW6Ek

The trays for business class are already covered there and meals are warmed up and served on board.

Fun fact: there’s only one drink whose taste doesn’t change: tomato juice

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Article written by Marieke Schouten

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