Why Airplane Food Always Tastes Differently

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American researchers have found out why many dishes on the plane seem more stale, and tomato juice, on the contrary, is unusually tasty.

Experts from Cornell University came to the conclusion that our taste perceptions are so strongly influenced by the noise in the cockpit of a plane. We quickly get used to this noise and do not notice it, but objectively it is very loud (about 85 decibels).

It turned out that at this level of noise sweet taste buds are dulled, but the perception of the umami flavor, on the contrary, becomes intensified.

Umami is the fifth basic taste along with sour, salty, bitter and sweet. It’s a particular taste imparted by monosodium glutamate –for example, bacon, peas or tomatoes contain a lot of it. That is why so many people prefer tomato juice on the plane, every flight attendant knows it perfectly.

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48 people took part in this experiment conducted by the American scientists. They were offered samples of food from each of the five basic tastes in the environment simulating the noise in the cockpit, then in silence. The study participants were required to try all the products and note the intensity of the flavors on the special scale.

It turned out that the noise makes the umami taste stronger, the sweet taste weaker, but salty, sour and bitter tastes are almost not affected by the noise.

The scientists believe that such an interesting relationship between the auditory perception and the taste perception is connected with the stimulation of the timpani chord nerve, which is responsible for the perception of flavors.