By Doug Shields

An airline has become the first in the world to create an in-flight ‘mood food’ menu guaranteed to take the stress out of flying.

The cuisine is the brainchild of top food psychologist professor Charles Spence – the man behind Heston Blumenthal’s science-inspired dishes at The Fat Duck.

The vibrant selection of bites and brews, created for Monarch as part of their ‘Year of Nice’, begins prior to take off with black echinacea and liquorice ice cream

Echinacea fights the symptoms of coughs and colds while liquorice is known for its anti-inflammatory and boosting the immune system.

During the ascent green tea and lavender mochi rice cakes, which will help flyers relax, will be served.

Around 30 minutes into the flight, the experimental assortment will be washed down by a herbal tea blend of chamomile, fennel seed and kelp which accompanied by a crunchy, seaweed biscuit will help combat bloating and indigestion.

Finally, passengers will enjoy a sweet caramelised nut bar coated in umami rich mushroom and tomato powder just before they touch down.

Prof. Spence chose umami because it improves our perception of taste which can be affected by reduced air pressure dry cabin air and engine noise.

He said: “The black colour [ice cream] 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.

“Whilst flavour and ingredients are key, texture also plays a part in modifying mood states.

”The soft, chewy texture of the rice [mochi rice cake] 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.

“Reduced air pressure, dry cabin air, and engine noise all inhibit taste perception, but umami [nut bar] 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’s on-board.

‘’Using umami tastes alongside our other flavour combinations will be comforting and satisfying for passengers.”

The menu was created after a study of 2,000 Brits by the low-cost flight and holiday company revealed 72 per cent find holiday travelling stressful.

One third admitted they don’t relax until at least day three of their holiday.

And three out of five holiday-goers agreed good food is more likely to lift spirits when on annual leave with nearly one quarter agreeing that poor food can put a damper on a trip away.

The research also revealed the top ten holiday mood killers where the stress of travel appeared amongst bad weather, family arguments and a lack of food options at the airport.

Nils Christy, Chief Operating Officer at Monarch where the ‘less stress’ menu has taken flight, said: “We know how precious time on holiday is.

”So we are delighted to be able to listen to our customers’ needs and trial the Monarch ‘Mood Food’ box this summer enabling more people to relax, feel good and start enjoying their holiday from the moment they get to the gate.”

Richard Wood, UK Sales and Marketing Director at Alpha LSG, Monarch’s inflight catering provider, adds: “We’re always looking at ways to innovate and improve the service we provide.

”So it will be interesting to see how Monarch’s Mood Food Box is received.

“Airline food has progressed significantly over the last few years so there’s no reason why, in the future, airline menus can combine flavour with more scientific combinations of ingredients making passengers happier, healthier and more relaxed.”

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