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Sky High Sandwich takes off at Stansted Airport with a science boost

Professor Barry Smith with Stansted Airport's super sandwiches (7766817)
Professor Barry Smith with Stansted Airport's super sandwiches (7766817)

Forget the mile-high club - for a thrill while flying Stansted Airport has created the Sky High Sandwich.

The appliance of science provides the taste difference for the snack which was officially launched on Wednesday.

Stansted turned to luxury food outlet Not Always Caviar and a taste expert to create a sandwich designed with flavours that are enhanced at altitude.

Research shows the body’s ability to perceive flavours diminishes while flying so the new products include umami seasoning, the fifth taste after sweet, sour, salty and bitter.

Leading food expert Professor Barry Smith, director of the Centre of the Study of the Senses at the University of London, has advised.

He 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 to 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.”

Stansted Airport's super sandwiches (7766811)
Stansted Airport's super sandwiches (7766811)

His research has informed the recipe for the sandwiches. The first is a Signature Seafood Club with Scottish smoked salmon, salmon tartare, shrimp and guacamole style avocado with lemon and chilli flakes, beef tomato and spinach leaves served on granary bread with the option of a caviar sauce made with ketchup, mayonnaise, and umami-rich Worcestershire sauce and five grams of caviar.

The Salt Beef Deli sandwich contains salf beef finely chopped and mixed with mayonnaise and mustard in the style of a beef tartare with Cheddar cheese for umami, sliced cornichons and spinach leaves in a diamond roll.

Stansted Airport's super sandwiches (7766807)
Stansted Airport's super sandwiches (7766807)

The chilli and mustard stimulate the trigeminal nerve which affects the ability to detect spice and both sandwiches also contain a specially blended umami powder.

The Sky High Sandwich is on sale exclusively at the Not Always Caviar cafe, airside at Stansted, and can be eaten on board flights.

Taylor Goodhew, chief operating officer of 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 ft!”

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