Airplane food has been known to attract strong opinions: There are those, like Gordon Ramsay, who insist there's "no f***ing way" they'd eat it, then there's Chrissy Teigen, who claims to love the stuff and keeps a running tally of her favorite offerings on various airlines.
One thing we can all agree on, however, is that airline food just tastes different.
Besides the fact that the food is not freshly prepared, other factors at play include dry cabin air and low cabin pressure, which dulls sensory perception. Recent studies have also found that the noise level inside an airplane cabin can have an adverse effect on a passenger's sense of taste, dampening perceptions of sweet foods and enhancing awareness of savory flavors. With this in mind, professor Charles Spence, author of Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating offered the Telegraph a few tips to help mitigate these side effects.
“Donning a pair of noise-canceling headphones," he said "could actually be one of the simplest ways in which to make food and drink taste better at altitude.” And, all the better to enjoy dessert, the Telegraph also reports that chefs at the acclaimed Fat Duck restaurant claim that "listening to soundscapes that contain lots of tinkling, high-pitched notes can actually accentuate our perception of sweetness by 10 percent."
While Spence's recommended "nasal douche" method to clear a dry nasal passage may not be for everyone, he does have another simpler trick to make plane food taste better. Spence recommends hitting the pause button on the movie you're watching and, to the doubtless satisfaction of mothers everywhere, paying attention to what's on your plate instead of the screen. “According to ground-based research,” Spence said, “you ought to find that you enjoy your food a little more while, at the same time, find yourself satisfied with less of it.”
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