If you're like the staff at FDL then your mood can quickly be altered by food. A great meal can make you extremely happy, while a bad one can ruin the rest of your day.
This is never more apparent than when you're trapped in a metal branded airline box with a stale, soggy, lacklustre meal placed on the tray in front of you. And this is why Monarch airline are testing a new menu that will actually make customers feel better when they fly.
Working along side the neurogastronomy professor, Charles Spence, the airline have created what's been dubbed 'Mood Food' - dishes that are said to effect the feelings of their passengers.
The menu is also said to boost the immune system, calm nervous passengers and induce childlike nostalgia in some. For example, one dish of echinacea and liquorice ice cream was created to boost the immune system while distracting passengers from their flight because of the unexpected colour of black ice cream. Lavender is used in rice cakes to relax passengers, while a herbal tea is used to aid digestion.
Each stage of the new menu has been considered for the benefits, effects and taste - a new way of looking at airline food and something we actually suggested after our own foray into the world of cooking on planes.
The new menu will only be available on a select number of Monarch flights.
The Mood Food Menu
Before Take Off
Echinacea and liquorice ice cream
Spence: “The black colour is certainly counter-intuitive – most passengers think of white or pale colours with the ice cream. This may also help to distracts passengers from their chaotic journey whilst also surprising them and playing into childlike nostalgia.”
During Take Off
Green tea and lavender mochi rice cakes
Spence: “Whilst flavour and ingredients are key, texture also plays a part in modifying mood states. The soft, chewy texture of the rice encourages mastication which has proven anti-stress properties, reducing tension much chewing gum. The chewy rice snack has therefore been designed to help reduce passenger stress on aeroplanes.”
30 Mins into Flight
Herbal tea of chamomile, fennel seed and kelp. Served alongside crunchy, seaweed biscuits.
Spence: “Reduced air pressure, dry cabin air, and engine noise all inhibit taste perception, but umami is the only one of the basic tastes that manages to cut through these barriers, which is why so many passengers order a tomato juice or Bloody Mary on-board. Using umami tastes alongside our other flavour combinations will be comforting and satisfying for passengers.”
Just Before Disembarking
Sweet caramelised nut bar covered with mushroom and tomato powder (extra umami hit).
Spence: “Travelling is a time when we’re under pressure and rushed, so eating well is often an afterthought. I’ve loved working with Monarch to use food – which can be a powerful psychological and physiological tool – to create the first ever real ‘happy’ meal to get travellers in the holiday mood as quickly as possible.”