What’s up with bland airline food?
Blame your taste buds and palate, says Emirates executive chef, who takes the opportunity to dispel some of the myths
AIRLINE food does not often bode well with many travellers, myself included. Either it lacks flavour or looks sloppy.
Chef Ravi Nage, the regional catering manager for Emirates in the Asian subcontinent, Europe and the UK, helped to clear many of the misconceptions. Here’s what he had to say:
What makes airline food so bland?
Research shows that travellers’ taste buds and palates are working 35% less effectively high up in the air compared to on the ground. There are two possible reasons for this: cabin pressure and moisture content.
Over the years, many airlines have done their best for travellers to enjoy their meals. The newer planes have humidity control so the food tastes just as it would on land.
How does the chef determine what goes on the menu?
Menus are changed four times a year and are determined by the passenger profile and destination of the flight.
The feedback from our travellers will help us know what meals worked and what did not and we then make the changes accordingly.
What foods do airlines not serve onboard?
We try to avoid serving fried food or anything that needs to be cooked and served immediately. These types of food include French fries and popcorn. We also try not to serve food with a strong smelling aroma like durian (a fruit with a potent stench).
How can you pair alcohol with your meals on a plane?
There is a dedicated team who sources wines and alcoholic beverages for Emirates travellers. Our first class travellers often get to sample wines with our signature food pairings.
I would recommend travellers pair strong alcoholic drinks with heavily spiced meals. Are there any misconceptions you hope to debunk?
There are many.
Some people believe that we lace our fruit with sugar to make it sweet or that our meals are prepared well in advance and served later.
Both are untrue. These sentiments actually hurt as we follow a strict production plan.
Airlines pride themselves on producing fresh food in a safe and secure environment.
Some of the food is tested for pathogens and bacteria weekly to make sure that everything is in order.