Anti-gravity alimentation

If your idea of space food is that funky dehydrated ice cream your parents bought you at the gift shop at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, you might be surprised interstellar cuisine has matured.

In The New York Times, Dining In/Dining Out staff writer Kim Severson updates us on the latest developments in anti-gravity gastronomy, from the new menu being developed by the European Union to jambalaya created by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.

While today’s astronauts welcome the new changes in flavor and variety, Severson notes that the makers of space foods still have to contend with fundamental limitations on what can be served atop the atmosphere. Nothing that crumbles is allowed (“No one wants to chase a crumb around a space station”), and salt and pepper must be liquefied, for runaway grains could float away and “clog equipment or become lodged in an astronaut’s nose or eyes.” Ouch!

For space chefs, the final frontier, of course, is devising a menu for dining on the way to Mars. To boldly go where no meal has gone before, food will require new methods of preservation and packaging that can sustain a five-year shelf life.