Thursday, October 14, 2010

Background Noise and Taste of Foods

Reading through articles on Science, an interesting article crossed my eyes. I read and reread it. The article essentially says airline food does not taste good because of the background noise. I believe in scientific approach to prove a hypothesis but sometimes common sense should prevail. Regardless of the finding on 48 participants, I think theory is flawed.

•With more than a million miles of air travel over the years, I can safely say not all airlines are same. Food tastes better in some Asian airlines though planes are noisy. I found the chicken dish on a loud GoAir Bombay-Goa flight tastier than in quiet restaurants of Bombay.

•While eating in flights, mostly I listen to my favorite melodious music using a good headset. The food still does not taste good. On the contrary the taste of food lessens the listening pleasure.

•Eating in noisy restaurants is common. Busier (and noisier) a restaurant, chances are food is better. Food tastes better if prepared right.

•Cookout in my yard tastes very good though my yard is in flight zone and we hear airport noise all the time. (Just now three plane passed)

As usual, I welcome comments and expert opinions.


SG said...

Nice post. Don't want to brag. I have traveled a little more than you. I believe that the business of the airlines is to take us from point A to point B safely and they don't run a restaurant at 35000 feet.

When you are enjoying your lasangna over Los Angeles and the oxygen mask comes down and the captain turn on the seat belt sign and ask even the stewardess to sit down in their seats, would you be worrying about your chicken's taste?

Amrit said...


Sure! Travel safely is the prime objective. But I am questioning the rationalization that background noise changes the taste with a test on 48 people in a controlled environment. I would not be surprised, we see another theory completely different than this ....e.g...sitting in a compact seat changes the taste.

Bikram said...

WEll I have not traveleld as much as you do , but i do take 2 -3 trips to india each year and a couple for holidays but noise or plane doesnot bother me at all really ...

I am a food fanatic so when ti comes to food not much can disturb me moreover, after a couple of drinks anything is good :) he he hehe

i have travelled on almost all airlines but i found Quantas to be the best , loved there food and offcourse as much to drink tooo :) had a lovely flight singapore to sydney ...

dont know about these theories i dont beleive in them cause in a few years time they will have a new one which will say this one was wrong and so on .. its just a few people sitting there making decisions dont beleive it I would like to experiment it myself ...

Insignia said...

:-) Aaah what a timing for this post. Its a ridiculous study. I havent traveled much. But I have always avoided food provided during flights. I pack a sub or a muffin with me. They taste better - noise or no noise :-D

chitra said...

Can't say much on this A, as my air travels are almost nil. I Travel more on the roads and there is nothing to compare here. But loved reading the post and comments.

shuchita said...

I don't think background noise has got anything to do with it and food does taste differently in different airlines sometimes it's edible too surprise surprise !!!!
Asian airlines are way better than others both food and service wise, personally I prefer jet airways or singapore airlines
and I agree with you dear A sometimes common sense should prevail :)

Usha said...

Silly research..think of street food in India..every food stall is surrounded with noise, still food tastes delicious.

Taste purely depends on preparation and Airline food needs to be cooked with lots of restriction..It is mix of excellent and o.k dishes.Each air line has its own flavor of food. I have tasted few well prepared dishes in International and Indian flights.Also there is big difference in food served in regular and business class.

More than noise I can say it is stress of long, uncomfortable journey affects appetite and there by reduces intensity of flavor.I control eating in flight journey to avoid acidity and vomiting. For one or two hour flights I always avoid eating.

For me orange juice taste extra yummy in flights. I never drink orange juice at home but I enjoy in flights.

I am surprised to see that this research is out and published.

Amrit said...


You are so right. I don't personally drink but most of friends say the same. They do exactly the same like you. I agree Quanta is very good. I have done Singapore-Sydney on Quantas. Singapore Airline and Jet are pretty good.


I eat before the flight now and after the flight. But sometimes I have to eat in the plane. You are so right.


I agree with you. I love reading comments from the readers. Most of the time, they are better than original post and I appreciate intelligent readers for that.


Hahah. Sometimes it is edible...surprise :)


I agree with you. There are so many other factors. Long uncomfortable journey, sitting with unknown people.


My daughter just pointed out one important point. She said in her flight from Paris to Bombay, bread was delicious but everything else was gross. How can we explain it with noise level?

raji said...

@ studies are studies,strange and weird!maay be some people do experience trouble eating at plane with those noise levels;its all about conditioning to the environment.may be frequent travellers are at much ease on eating.but my case is always same.i enjoy food wherever and whenevr;i like the varieties beeing served at plane.

kiran sawhney said...

Yes, I also fail to see the connection between the noise in the aircraft and the taste of the food. Thinking hard...scratching my head...still can't see any connection....

sm said...

yes and also depend on the mood of person
never thought on this topic in deep

NRIGirl said...

@A I truly enjoy the flight food and any food "served" rather than me having to serve myself...

A New Beginning said...

Thats an interesting analysise A, I wonder if noise can really be the reason for bad taste..

Kavita Saharia said...

I miss the meals Indian Airline used to provide 20-25 years back --food used to be very tasty then.
I don't like air line food now a days . They focus a lot on the presentation but not on the taste .You are right food tastes better only if it is prepared right - noise or no noise .

Happy Navratri to you and your family A .

BK Chowla, said...

Frankly, while travelling I have never bothered about the taste of food---it is more about the seat belt and a small drink.
Seriously, who cares about food at that height?A non turbulent flt is all that matters.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

As we were both mentioned on NRIGirl's site AND I love visiting other bloggers I though I'd stop by and say hello. Nice to have met you, I've enjoyed visiting.

Amrit said...


I know some people who practically live in planes. (They are in Sales jobs). These people never eat in plane. They just cannot stand plane food. They are conditioned to noise of plane and yet they eat before boarding. If you like food, then of course noise would not bother you. :)


I agree with you.


Yes. There are many factors. It is hard to single out noise.


That is an interesting way to look at it. :)


I don't think noise plays a part.


Yes. Presentation is more important these days. Food quality is becoming worst gradually.


Yes. Safety is the key concern.

@Petty Witter,

Welcome. My posts are essentially readers' post.Mostly comments have more interesting material to read.

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

What a nonsensical study! I agree with you, sometimes the food is ok, and sometimes it's not. It usually depends on the airline, and also the country of origin a bit (more for personal taste). I found that Cathay Pacific has nice food (this was years ago though) and some of the European airlines. Every American airline I've traveled with has had horrible food, and the Canadian ones too!

Black Walnut Pearl said...

I believe that our taste buds have no connection with our earbuds:) But I am sure, if we are extremely hungry, there will be lack of sensory in our taste buds.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Hello and many thanks for visiting Pen and Paper. Interesting that this very article also caught my eye. Due to be published tomorrow (18th October) I hope you don't mind me including a link to your post.

Anonymous said...

@ A..

I agree with you. food prepared well tastes good. Noise or no noise it doesn't matter. If the surroundings are good we may enjoy the food more that is it.

How ever good the food is we cannot enjoy completely if we are disturbed or feeling hot and humid. Bad food served in 5 star restaurant, even on silver paste will not taste good too.

Ultimately it is the preparation that counts... May be the the study is an excuse for some airlines which serve lousy food...

lol..@ Bikranjit

After a couple of drinks, anything is okay.. ? I just could not help laughing. You are like my brother. After couple of drinks any thing which will not bite him back is okay for him...

Anonymous said...

Actually, I don't really like the food on flights mainly because it is a psychological 'wehem' kind of a feeling .. mujhe hamesha yeh doubt rehta hai ki the food is not fresh or something.
And as for the study, these kinds of research are probably just to keep a few people 'busy' and then they can be termed as 'scholars'. :) Nothing really comes out of it.. I remember some research in my childhood days about tea being harmful to health.. then came the research about its anti-oxidant properties that are supposedly good for health.. so researches to hote hi rahenge.

R. Ramesh said...

thanks buddy...btw, me too never thought of this subject deep..i am a poor eater and find airline food mostly bad...dunnno y..:)

dr.antony said...

I don't worry much about food during flight.But I care about drinks.In spite of travelling a lot,I cant sleep during flight.A drink or two makes it easier.I have often wondered why they serve liquor in flight.Any thoughts?

Renu said...

I nevr find good food in flight, except sometime in AI..earlier Sahara used to serve dosas and idlis..the types one couldnt even recognise what they are, by taste.

Tanvi said...

These findings seem like work of an idol mind. Clearly there is no connection or co relation according to me :)

Amrit said...


I agree with you. Study does not make sense to me.

@Black Walnut Pearl,

Sure. If one is starving, everything tastes good.

@Petty Witter,

Sure. My pleasure.


Thanks for vote of confidence. Bik is indeed good.


Yes. The thought the food is not fresh is based on past experience of your own and you heard it from other people. Usually it is not fresh. And of course people have to be busy. I agree about tea and coffee studies.


Airline food is bad- I agree 

@Dr Antony,

You bring a good point – serve drinks on the flights. They don’t anymore within USA. The original idea was to make long flight comfortable but now it is all about saving cost. I don’t drink so I don’t care.


Food is not good on airlines so you find it good 


I like idol mind..:)

Tanvi said...

Opps! I meant Idle of course!

Anonymous said...

This from the person who gets light headed and loses all appetite during flights "Why do people crib about airline food? I agree with you on one count. Most of the times it tastes more decent than food we get in many restaurants!"