“A tomato juice please” a sentence that is seldom heard in a restaurant. Above the clouds, however, the juice leads the beverage ranking by far. It’s even more popular than beer. Researchers have now found that the taste buds react differently during a flight than they do on the ground and that these changes are eating and drinking behaviour.
Flying affects the body
It rattles, is loud, and you have pressure on your ears during the climb. Flying is a burden on the body. Above all, the air pressure, the humidity and the reduced oxygen uptake cause us problems. Mechanisms in the aircraft regulate these parameters, but at an altitude of 11,000 meters, air conditions like those at 2,000 meters still affect us. This also affects the function of our taste buds.
The taste sensations change
During the flight, the ability to taste sweet and salty decreases by about 30%, as the cold and dry air leads to drying out of the nasal passages.
But the noise level also plays an important role. Noise stress reduces the taste sensation. Both factors, air and noise, are responsible for the impairment of the taste buds during the flight.
No matter how hard the chefs in the large kitchens try, we just can’t taste it – so far! Because since this realization, the food and the drinks are selected according to different standards.
A wine that we drink on the plane would probably be considered pure juice because of the sweetness on the ground. Because during the flight, the sweetness is felt to be significantly weaker. On the other hand, we would consider bread rolls that are fresh and crispy to be dry and inedible on the plane. This, in turn, is due to the lower humidity.
The external influences weaken the taste buds for sweet and salty. It is different with bitter tastes. The sensation of these flavours remains with us, which can be justified with the basic instinct. The recognition of bitter food serves to protect against poisoning. Poisonous foods usually taste bitter.
Umami, a somewhat unknown flavour, cannot be negatively influenced by the influences of flying either. Quite the opposite: Umami provides a hearty taste like parmesan, tomatoes or soy sauces. During the flight, the feeling for the hearty taste is increased, which has a positive effect on the demand for tomato juice.
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