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Heston Blumenthal on plane food

Chef Caro has a chat to Heston about changing plane food for the better.

02 Oct 2012
heston blumenthal

Would you like to have lunch with Heston Blumenthal?

Let me have a think... yes please. A couple of journo's got together with him at one of the most beautiful properties in the Cape, Ellerman House

I just have to say, he is such a nice guy, a true food geek with a creative mind that is seriously inspiring. (Gush gush, my hero - here's me rubbing his head)

Heston's Mission Impossible

The more-than-famous molecular gastronomist was in Cape Town recently promoting his up-coming 'Mission Impossible' tv show (starting 4th October in SA), in which the challenge was to look at the impact of altitude on the in-flight eating and drinking experience.

Heston and British Airways got together and with his sensory knowledge and experience, they got to the nitty gritty of how to make food taste better in the air.

Why does plane food taste bad?

Heston studied the fundamental reasons why plane food can taste bland and boring, with things like humidity, sound and cabin pressure playing key roles.

One of his recommendations was to use ingredients which are high in umami, a savoury flavour known as the ‘fifth taste’, which occurs naturally in foods such as seaweed, tomatoes, mackerel and Parmesan cheese and works particularly well in catering at altitude.

Height cuisine

British Airways calls the approach it has adopted to counter the effects of altitude, lower humidity and other sensory inhibitors in aircraft cabins, Height Cuisine - quite cool I thought.

They've spent oodles of cash on the improvements and this programme will show how their in-flight food offering is now a better one.

I for one am rather excited to watch what will be on offer. Are you going to watch the show? (Starts Thursday 4th October 8pm on BBC LIfestyle).

Bring on delicious plane food ne?

Interesting foodie plane facts:

1. It’s also impossible to make a hot cup of tea or coffee because at the reduced atmospheric pressure water boils at 91 degrees rather than 100. Boiling it longer will only create more steam and not make the drink any hotter.

2. A modern jet aircraft cruises at around 35 000 feet and the cabin is pressurised to 8 000 feet. Under these conditions you lose about 30% of your ability to taste, so food can seem bland or insipid.

3. Red wine is most popular in the skies and white wine is most popular in the lounges

4. The most popular dish at BA at the moment is 'Butter Chicken'.

- Caro de Waal

Read more on: caro de waal

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