Thursday, June 15, 2017

Culinary flights

New Delhi: Frequent fliers often have complain about the food served on the flight ~ one may want to improve the taste of the sandwich, the dosa may not be crispy, the curry too thick or the quantity of food not enough and not tasting as it should. But little does one know how this food is processed and reaches the passengers.

Unlike food on the ground, which is served soon after it is cooked, flight foods have to go through several processes for it to stay fresh and nutritious for several hours.

It takes around at least 18 hours to prepare a single meal and making food tasty in the sky is the major challenge for chefs.

The food served in the plane has to withstand several fluctuations in temperatures, swinging between extreme and moderate, from the moment a meal is cooked or prepared in the kitchen to the time it is served to a passenger. Just like a flight control room, these kitchens too have a control room to know all the flight details. “Which flight is coming next?

Which flight will be flying where? What would be the passengers' preference?

All these one has to take care of in this control room,” explained general manager of Taj SATS, Shashi R Sinha. One has to keep in mind a lot of things before serving food on the flight. International Airline Virgin Atlantics informed that a lot goes into preparing food to be served at 35,000 ft.

“People eat with their eyes before they eat with their mouths, so colours and textures create anticipation of the tastes to follow meaning the visual appearance of a dish is vital," informed the spokesperson from Lufthansa. "We also need to make sure our cabin crew is able to create the dishes and present them to our customers in the aircraft. We also take into consideration the weight and packaging sizes, cooking time and the food safety elements of the storage on-board." Why so tasteless?

Scientifically, while flying high, the humidity in the cabin drops by around 15 per cent, which make sense of smell and taste decrease by 20-25 per cent. Therefore, the transport of smell and taste to the brain becomes slows. At this height, the taste of salt and sweet also decreases.

Therefore flight food is high on salt and sweet. In a bid to maintain the taste in the sky, airlines have to work a little harder. Take for example Virgin Atlantic Airlines, which selects products with a stronger flavour profile to ensure that they are not tasteless on the flight.
15/06/17 Rakesh Kumar/Statesman