Plane Fact: Nothing Tastes Very Good at 30,000 Feet
First of all, we didn’t realize actual food was served on airplanes any more — save the random tiny package of peanuts or pretzels. Can you tell we fly coach? But it gives us some smug sense of satisfaction to know that the swells in first class dining on “asparagus and wild-Alaskan smoked salmon quiche” (we kid you not) aren’t really enjoying their dinner as much as they could be.
For more on that, we turn to Clifton Lyles, the corporate chef for Alaska Airlines (who, by the way, developed the aforementioned quiche). He gave the folks at NPR a behind-the-scenes peek at why turning out great meals miles up in the sky is so tricky.
According to Lyles, who is a “traditional, classically trained chef,” developing meals that must be reheated and served at, say, 30,000 feet was a big challenge when he started his airline gig. It’s not like he can be there to dish everything up.
“Even flight attendants that come to our menu reviews have no idea the amount of thought that goes behind every little entree, from folding the cheese to how do you wrap something,” Alaska Airlines’s Lisa Luchau tells NPR. “All of those details have to be considered.”
And then there’s that whole taste thing. NPR reports that we lose around 20 to 30 percent of our sense of taste when flying at cruising altitude.
“Most people don’t realize that, but it definitely shows itself when you’re eating in an airline,” Lyles tells the network. “… You have to use your eyes. You have to use your nose. You have to use your ears. Every other sense that I can involve in the meal itself in order to translate what it is that you’re missing by your sense of taste is what makes it successful.”
So you bigwigs in first class can have your fancy quiche, because you know what works for us back in coach? Vodka. And those mini bottles go surprisingly well with peanuts.
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