22 August 2010
Online - Habitat (Good)
A Cookbook for the Weightless
(Hint: not a diet cookbook)
by G B Leatherwood
In Maslow's hierarchy of human needs, food comes just below water, a little above shelter and sex. In the hierarchy of curiosity about what really goes on in space, food comes in right after how they use the toilet. In other words...really important.

Long gone are the days of barely palatable stuff sucked out of a plastic tube, and although Tang was a hit when the astronauts (supposedly) guzzled it, the menus for meals on the International Space Station ( ISS) read more like what you'd find in any good cookbook in your kitchen and mine.

Cookbook? Now that you mention it, there is such a critter that describes in loving and complete detail what food was like then, how meals have evolved since those early days of freeze dried ice cream, and what it is like now.

The book, appropriately named _The Astronaut's Cookbook: Tales, Recipes, and More,” was written by NASA veteran Charles T. Bourland and expert science writer Gregory L. Vogt, with contributions from such earthly luminaries as Rachel Ray and Emeril Lagasse. First released in October 2009, it is available in both new and used versions from Amazon.com.

Even the table of contents sounds interesting with such headings as “Eating in Microgravity,” “Become a Space Cook,” and “To Iodize or Not to Iodize, That Is The Question.” Breakfast foods, snacks, soups and salads, and so on, all with tips on “What You'll Find at Your Supermarket.” Of course, here on Earth we can play fast and loose with certain requirements: in space, an errant breadcrumb can wreck havoc on computer equipment, but on Terra Firma, we can safely eat as messily as we please.

At the moment, the ISS is the only destination where people stay long enough to need food, but eventually space tourists will be making longer and longer trips—orbiting hotels, trips to the moon, vacations on Mars—and food will become a vital necessity.

Who knows? Maybe the competition for tourist dollars will include which tour operator offers the best menu?

For a look at this book, including a free chapter, see the Amazon.com listing.
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G B Leatherwood 22 August 2010
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