Music can enhance the experience you have while you eat. That’s what Oxford University professor Charles Spence proposed in his research and almost ten years ago, in 2014, British Airways decided to create a special playlist to sharpen the flavors of its dishes.
The British airline seems to care not only about transporting passengers from one location to the other, but rather the overall experience they have while on board. Instead of eating in front of a screen without paying attention to the ingredients contained in the meal tray, the airline decided to innovate.
According to the company’s online magazine Highlife, the concept is called Sonic Seasoning and it holds that the notes of certain songs may help awaken the taste buds to specific flavors. According to Professor Charles Spence and his team who conducted the study, the sensitivity of sweet or salty would be 10% higher with this method.
“We are going to see far more interest in the matching of music and soundscape to what we eat and drink,” Tazzoli told The Daily Mail. “I think it is exciting and innovative to see British Airways taking the first steps in this direction.”
Your ability to taste is reduced by 30% in the air, so we do everything we can to counteract this.Mark Tazzioli, British Airways chef
The British Airways chef, Mark Tazzioli, has therefore taken into account these findings to develop dishes in line with them. The chef believes that at 35,000 feet, people lose 30% of their ability to taste food. “The search for sound seasoning is fascinating and should help bring out the flavors,” he said.
“Your ability to taste is reduced by 30% in the air, so we do everything we can to counteract this,” Tazzioli told The Dialy Mail. “As the ‘fifth taste’, we use umami-rich ingredients in our meals and choose wines that work well with these dishes. The sonic seasoning research is fascinating, and our pairings should really help bring out the flavors.”
As a result, the British company offers a playlist of thirteen tracks, titled SoundBite, in the Rock and Pop category. Among them: Paolo Nutini’s Scream (Funk My Life Up) for the Scottish salmon appetizer. Lily Allen and Coldplay were chosen for the main meals, because according to the study’s findings, “British food and music go hand in hand.”
Debussy is presented as ideal for enjoying the flavors of a roast. On the other hand, for dessert, the high notes of Madonna and James Blunt seem to be suitable for bringing out the sweet dishes. On the drink side, the study relies on the Pretenders’ notes for red wines, judged to make them appear more “robust” and “heavy”, while white wine is served with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. And to finish with coffee, the Oxford team advises listening to Placido Domingo and his low frequencies.
British Airways launched a TV channel dedicated to pets so that the most anxious and distressed on board a plane can relax, and also for those who enjoy fur balls and cartoons such as Simon’s Cat.