London Stansted airport has teamed up with luxury food outlet Not Always Caviar to create a sandwich designed with flavours that are enhanced at altitude.
Based on scientific food research into the body’s reduced ability to perceive flavours when flying, the new sandwich will include Umami-rich ingredients.
Umami, the ‘fifth’ taste after sweet, sour, salty and bitter – is at the core of the sandwich’s inception, also featuring as a blended Umami seasoning, providing passengers with a premium in-flight taste experience.
With many airlines withdrawing complimentary meals on flights, passengers are looking for new taste experiences to purchase on the ground to take on board.
Working in partnership with Not Always Caviar and leading food expert Professor Barry Smith, director of the Centre of the Study of the Senses at the University of London, the airport has developed the Sky High Sandwich to give passengers access to the same food science that has been employed by some of the world’s premium airlines for the benefit of their business class passengers, making this science available to all.
The Sky High Sandwich will be sold exclusively at the Not Always Caviar cafe in London Stansted airport, available as a Signature Seafood Club (with optional caviar sauce) or a Salt Beef deli sandwich. Both sandwiches will include a special umami blend spice ingredient,.
Professor Smith said: “Science shows that the combination of dry air and low-pressure during flights reduces our sensitivity to food aromas. Additionally, the sound of white noise at 80 decibels or above has an impact on the brain’s ability to perceive sweet, salt and sour from the tongue – reducing its intensity by about 10-15%. In an aircraft cabin you are subjected to white noise of around 89 decibels. This will greatly reduce the flavours we can taste whilst flying.
“Foods rich in umami provide depth of flavour and boost other basic tastes like salt, sweet and sour. Umami is also immune to the effects of white noise on our perception of taste. Another way of boosting flavour mid-flight – where the altitude and white noise levels are high – is to combine different types of umami rich foods – creating synergistic umami. This occurs when foods with naturally occurring glutamates are combined with others that contain nucleotides. Foods that combine these ingredients will produce a product that’s packed with flavour – even at 35,000 feet”.
As taste buds can be less receptive at high altitude the ingredients chosen for the Sky High Sandwich have been carefully crafted to ensure that passengers sampling them on-board a flight are met with punchy flavours that trigger key receptors in the mouth.
To ensure the flavour and ingredient combinations work, the product development team at Not Always Caviar tested the Sky High Sandwich in flight as part of the development process.
Aboudy Nasser, chief commercial officer at London Stansted Airport, said: “As one of the UK’s leading airports, we want to ensure passengers continue to enjoy our great food and beverage offering whilst on board. The Sky High Sandwich is part of our mission to innovate, by harnessing science to create something unique for our guests that tastes great on the ground and even better up in the air”
Taylor Goodhew, chief operating officer, Not Always Caviar, said: “Our sandwiches are made with fresh ingredients daily on the premises, so we are delighted to combine these ingredients with the science behind umami to provide customers with a fantastic taste experience which is proven to be enhanced at 35,000 feet.”