Use MSG To Improve Aeroplane Food

Use MSG To Improve Aeroplane Food
Photo: Getty Images

Mentally, flying is not an issue for me. It’s the physical aspects of being hurled through the air at many miles per hour that I find upsetting. Even if you don’t experience sinus pressure or motion sickness, sitting in a loud plane can alter the way you perceive the world around you. In fact, it can change the way you taste things, which is honestly pretty unacceptable.

According to the New York Times, “our sensitivity to sweet and salty foods drops by about 30 per cent in the air, compared to when we’re on the ground.” Umami, however is more easily detected, which explains my sudden tomato juice and Dorito cravings during air travel.

It also explains why snacks don’t hit the same on a plane, but it gives us an opportunity to adapt, fight back and increase the umami content of our travel snacks.

Photo: Claire Lower

I think you know where I’m going with this. If umami is the only thing you can really taste on a plane, then umami is the thing we should increase in our food. This is easily accomplished with a little monosodium glutamate.

You only need a little, so pack a couple teaspoons in a vial, tin, or baggy, and sprinkle it on the appropriate meals and snacks. (Do, however, be prepared to answer questions about the white crystals. I have found that these little salt tins raise the least amount of suspicion.)

Put MSG on your sad airline meal, shake it around in a bag of potato chips, or sprinkle it on creamy cheese wedges. You can even use it to enhance the flavour of fruit — try it on an apple, it has an effect very similar to Parmesan.


  • MSG is a type of salt. So don’t freak out about the weird name.

    Also remember that regular salt is made from two elements. One explodes in contact with water and the other is a hideous gas poison.

  • MSG is not available in the 3 big supermarkets. Good thing because the cabin crew would need to put you on continuous liquid feed until your thirst caused by the MSG dissipates.

    Continental sells several chicken stock powers missing MSG (flavour enhancers 621, 622 and 623) which can give your airline food that tasty boost.

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