Bloody Marys and other tomato-based drinks may be popular on airline flights because the flavor of umami is not diminished by loud noise and low cabin air pressure.
That theory was raised by Barry Smith, founder of the Centre for the Study of the Senses at the University of London, and his colleagues in a recent scientific article that appears in the journal Flavour.
Umami is the flavor mostly associated with meats, vegetables and cheese. To prove the theory, Smith and his colleagues suggest a scientific study that feeds umami-rich foods to test subjects under various conditions, including while in flight, wearing noise-canceling headphones.
“Perhaps all those travelers who order a Bloody Mary after the seat belt sign has been turned off have figured out intuitively what scientists are only now slowly coming to recognize empirically,” the article says.