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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Airline food tastes bad? Don't blame the chef, your taste buds go numb in flight

HT Correspondent  New Delhi, April 14, 2014
First Published: 19:03 IST(14/4/2014) | Last Updated: 20:14 IST(14/4/2014)

If you had a penny for every time you cursed chefs of airplane food for cooking tasteless junk — you wouldn't be a millionaire, but you sure would be wrong to doubt their skills.

A recent study has shown that at 35,000 feet, your taste and olfactory senses go for a toss, according to a report published by the Huffington Post. The report, which quoted a study done by the Fraunhofer Institute, a firm based in Germany, said the pressurised and dry cabin of flights result in your tasted buds going numb. The perception of saltiness and sweetness goes down by almost 30% at high altitudes, it added.

The report also quoted Grant Mickels, a top executive at Lufthansa's LSG Sky Chefs, as saying that food tastes almost like the sensation you get when you are suffering from cold.

“The quality of the food and its ingredients isn't to blame, it's the way you experience it. (It is) so dull in the air,” Huffington Post quotes Mickels as saying. The study the report was based on was carried out in a mock aircraft cabin. The decreased humidity in the pressurised atmosphere also dries up your nose and subdues the sense of smell, which is essentially for tasting flavor of food.

However, it is not entirely the fault of the pressurised cabin and dry atmosphere, according to the report. “Though your muted taste buds are the main reason behind your unpalatable airline food, its journey from the catering kitchen to your plate admittedly doesn't help, according to Harold McGee, a scientist and the author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen,” the report said.


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