Journalist Report – August 12th
We are what we eat
Before the space race started, people assumed that the space food would be used only in the form of pills. They should be fully digestible and require no time for cooking. But food pills have never been invented. In the beginning of space era, back at 60’s era Soviet Union and USA started their space food research programs. First human who ate, while orbiting the Earth, was Yuri Gagarin. He wasn’t hungry, it was a 108 minutes trip to space but Gagarin had to test the ability of human body to digest food in zero gravity. The food was packed in the tubes with minced meat and chocolate inside, of course separately. Humans can digest food in space, but the taste perception changes. As astronauts say food tastes same as when you have blocked nose, so they use extra salt and spices. Until the 90’s food was packed mostly into tubes. But with the new technologies of vacuum packing and dehydration, now tubes used only for honey and sauces packaging. To send each kilogram to space costs enormous amount of money, therefore astronauts receive dehydrated food in vacuum packs and some meat/fish in aluminum cans. On Earth plenty of places where the weight, shelve stable, no need to cook qualities of the food matter. Hiking up in the mountains, working as a rescuer or living at FMARS station in Mars simulation. In all of those cases, the tubes are perfect solution. No time to sit down and eat, grab the soup or minced meat in a tube and the stomach refilled. Exactly this kind of space tubes we received from Earth. The Space Food Laboratory is based in Russia produces space food for the cosmonauts but also distributes it to ordinary people. The Space Food Laboratory was happy to participate in Mars 160 mission and provided our crew variety of nutritious, healthy and balanced food. Usually we have our Russian space treat twice per week. It consist of three courses: soup, meat and dessert. The crew always look forward to these special meals and enjoys discovering new tastes of Russian cuisine. Borshct – popular red soup made of vegetables and beef. The beetroot gives to it the red color. There are three other different types of soups, with sorrel, mutton and pickles. All soups are in the tubes. Beef tongue with olives, chicken with prunes, veal with vegetables packed in aluminum cans. As for dessert, the cottage cheese with different flavors: apple, blackcurrant and sea buckthorn. Sea buckthorn is a yellow small berry, which mostly grows in Russia. I hope you are intrigued and hungry!
We also have dry Japanese food Furi-Kake from Yusuke Murakami, which has an interesting story. A pharmacist from Kumamoto invented the supplements for medical use more than 150 years ago, when Japanese people had shortage in calcium. He dried fish bones and smashed it into powder, mixed it with seaweed, sesame seeds and some other flavors to taste good and gave it as medicine. People loved the taste and started to buy it just to use as spice for the rice. He named the supplement “Gohan-no-tomo”, which means “Friend of rice”. Furi-Kake became the general name for this kind of dry food and means “shake and put on the rice”. With a time, it spread throughout whole Japan and each town has its own recipe of Furi-Kake. Now it is more than thousand varieties of it. A Furi-Kake festival, which doesn’t have one date, can happen whenever people want and looks more like a competition. First people try different Furi-Kake tastes brought by Japanese food companies and then vote for the best one. Now we are adding Furi-Kake to almost any meal and it tastes unusual, but good. The variety is impressive: sour, salty, sweet, crispy. We have: cod fish, bonito fish, squid, shrimp, salted plum, sea urchin, apricot, ramen and kidney beans. It is shelve stable, light and has calcium, seaweed minerals, iron, vitamin E and many more. Japanese say that seaweed is good for hair. Well, now we can’t really see any difference, since we wash hair once a week, but we hope it is strong and shiny.
If the saying “We are what we eat” is true, then we should have an energy of an astronauts and the wisdom of the Japanese. I definitely know that on Mars crew will need to have space food, but will still want to cook an earthly meals and bake bread because this gives the warm feelings of a home. A new home, which we dreamed of.