On my way back from Kolkata, I travelled by Jet Airways. At 3 am, with only pitch black visible outside the window, the Flight Attendant woke me up to make me eat. In my groggy state, I was happy to get my box of non-veg snacks. There was a scrambled egg sandwich and a mini banana muffin.
Let’s review how it was, shall we? HORRIBLE! I’ve had plane food before, but this was the most tasteless sandwich I’d ever eaten, even though it looked really nice. If I had to eat that meal with my eyes, it would’ve been satisfied.
But, why does something as simple as a muffin and sandwich taste bad on a plane?
Airplane food has a bad reputation for a number of reasons — the way the food itself is prepared and stored, the environment in which it is served onboard and the flight conditions all combine to affect the way the meals taste.
But, the food's not really the only problem here.
The cool, dry cabin air makes your taste buds go numb.
As your flight goes higher and higher, say (35000 ft about sea level), the first thing that goes for a toss is your sense of taste. A dish that would be delicious in a fine dining restaurant becomes as dull in the air. The cool, dry cabin air makes your taste buds go numb, almost as if you had a cold. Ever remember eating food with a cold? It’s as good as chewing on paper.
On top of that, these meals are prepared in advance, so they are shelf-stable for a number of hours, then they’re reheated in less than ideal conditions, which also contributes to it not tasting great.
Sure, the cabin atmosphere is less than ideal and our taste buds are to blame, but Reputed chefs like Heston Blumenthal have successfully created good food for flights. But it’s not what airlines are used to. Good food requires time and airlines don’t have much of it, so they keep making, quick, dry meals, and most of us, as Indians who want to get out money’s worth, end up eating it.
Maybe it’s time to rethink that sandwich and muffin while flying at 3 AM.