Airline food does not often bode well with many travellers - including myself. Either it lacks flavour or looks sloppy. Chef Ravi Nage, the Regional Catering Manager for Emirates in the Asian Sub Continent, Europe and 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 have a 35 percent reduction of their taste buds and palette when they fly. There are two factors, cabin pressure and moisture content, which could be the reason for this. Over the years, many airlines have done their best for travellers to enjoy their meals. The newer planes have humility 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 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 will make changes accordingly.
What food do airlines not serve onboard?
We try to avoid the process of serving fried food or anything that needs to be cooked and served immediately. These types of food would include french fries and popcorn. We also try not to serve food with a strong smelling aroma like Durian.
How can one pair alcohol with their meals on the 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. Personally, I would recommend travellers to pair strong alcoholic drinks with heavily spiced meals.
Finally, are there any perceptions 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 on a weekly basis to make sure that everything is in order.