Post by Maria Godoy, The Salt at NPR Food (5/14/13)
Amid the media phenomenon that is Commander Chris Hadfield, you may have overlooked his turn as the International Space Station’s top chef.
The Canadian astronaut, who landed back on Earth Monday along with two other ISS crew members, wasn’t just hamming it up during his five months in space. (Although ham it up he did: In the last couple of days, his rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” shot in orbit, has gotten nearly 7 million YouTube views.) While still aboard the space station, Hadfield also took the time to enlighten viewers on the intricacies of meal prep in space.
“In the early days of space exploration,” he informs us in one video, “food was mostly squeezed out of tubes and brought up in dehydrated packets. But today, we can have quite a variety of food. … We just need some minor adaptations.”
Such as swapping tortillas for bread when making sandwiches – mostly, he explains, because bread makes crumbs, and in space, crumbs don’t fall, they float away. Apparently, the tortillas that astronauts eat are specially packaged in an oxygen-free environment, which makes them “good for 18 months.”
Still, dehydrated foods remain a reality of astronaut menus, as Hadfield demonstrates in another video on prepping spinach (just add water). While it’s great to see our space cadets getting in their vegetables, you’d be hard-pressed to call the mushy green concoction that Hadfield displays before the camera appetizing.
So in the scheme of things, perhaps it’s a blessing of sorts that in space, astronauts lose their sense of smell — a key factor in how we experience the flavor of food — and get a hankering for hot sauce. Faced with that spinach dish, we’d probably reach for the Tabasco, too.
Copyright 2013 NPR.