Ever wonder why foods on the airplane taste weird? You can partly blame it on the specially engineered food that airlines serve and your taste buds. At high altitudes, our body functions try to adapt to the altered environment which is constantly re-circulating the same air. Studies suggest that our taste buds find it difficult to identify and process different tastes in a pressurized air cabin.
There are a multiple ways in which one can ensure a healthy and happy in-flight experience. Scientists from Cornell University advocate in favour of savoury food consumption onboard to feel better while flying. Researchers have found that in noisy situations our taste buds prefer savoury tomatoes over sweets.
"The multi-sensory properties of the environment where we consume our food can alter our perception of the foods we eat," said Robin Dando, assistant professor of food science at Cornell University.
The study explains that in noisy situations - like the 85 decibels aboard a jetliner - "umami"-rich foods become a favourite choice of your taste buds. A Japanese scientific term, umami describes the sweet and savoury taste of amino acids such as glutamate in foods like tomato juice.
"Our study confirmed that in an environment of loud noise, our sense of taste is compromised. Interestingly, this was specific to sweet and umami tastes, with sweet taste inhibited and umami taste significantly enhanced," Dando said.
The study may guide reconfiguration of airline food menus to make airline food taste better.
British Airways experimented with their menu and brought umami flavoured food items onboard. "They worked with celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal to introduce umami-rich dishes, which Blumenthal called the 'umami factor'." Why Does In-Flight Food Taste So Odd? By Kriti Malik
Taste perception depends not only on the integration of several sensory inputs associated with the food or drink itself, but also on the sensory attributes of the environment in which the food is consumed, the scientists said.
"The multi-sensory nature of what we consider 'flavor' is undoubtedly underpinned by complex central and peripheral interactions," Dando said.
Inputs from IANS