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Space food isn’t all tasteless slop sucked through a straw

If you thought space food was all tasteless slop sucked through a straw, think again.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, the current commander of the International Space Station (ISS), has just posted a video from the only orbital kitchen in the universe (well, that we know of), revealing that space travelers can actually enjoy some pretty decent food.

Pesquet speaks in his native tongue, so if your French isn’t up to scratch, simply hit the “CC” button on the video for English subtitles.

La cuisine dans l'ISS ! J’étais tellement heureux de recevoir mes plats préférés que j’en ai fait une vidéo, et j’en profite pour vous expliquer comment on se nourrit dans l’espace
😋 🥫 🍲
Food! I was so happy about the arrival of my food that I made a video about it. 🍫😋

— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) October 7, 2021

Prior to Pesquet’s arrival at the space station in April, the astronaut asked the renowned Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx if he’d like to send some dishes to space for the ISS crew to enjoy.

Marx jumped at the chance, and worked with physical chemistry researcher Raphaël Haumont to create mouthwatering delights such as beef bourguignon, einkorn risotto, and crêpes Suzette (Side note: On Earth, all three recipes would usually use some form of alcohol, but as this isn’t permitted on the ISS, the chef cooked it off).

Aware of the importance of astronaut health during long-duration space missions, the chef remained mindful of the salt, fat, and sugar content of the dishes. “You have to see astronauts as high-level sportsmen,” Marx said in an interview earlier this year, adding, “Thomas will be confined up there for six months and weight gain is not an option.”

Pesquet describes the special dishes, which come stored in a can, as “party food” that’s usually saved f0r sharing among the crew on weekends when the astronauts make a special effort to enjoy a meal all together, or during other times such as a space-based birthday party.

NASA also has a long-running partnership with world-renowned French chef Alain Ducasse to create a variety of tasty dishes for consumption in space, with some of his efforts also featuring in Pesquet’s video.

For astronauts to get the most enjoyment out of space food, the chefs try to pack even more flavor into the dishes than they would ordinarily do for Earth-based diners. This is because, in space, the sense of taste is dulled by blocked nasal cavities and sinuses as body fluids float more freely in the microgravity conditions.

But Pesquet’s clear enthusiasm for the special space food suggests that, after nearly six months aboard the orbiting outpost, the chefs are doing a fine job.

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Trevor Mogg
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