It's been 40 years since the lunar landing, when the idea of food in space suddenly became more fascinating than, well, the food on your plate. Remember Space Food Sticks and Tang? (Check out the old commercials, on YouTube, after the jump.) These days space food has gone more upscale than, say, Astronaut Ice Cream. German chef Harald Wohlfahrt (Restaurant Schwarzwaldstube, 3 Michelin stars) is now creating dishes not only for diners in Germany, but for those on the International Space Station.
What's on Wohlfahrt's menu in space? Swabian potato soup; braised veal cheeks with wild mushrooms; plum compote. Of course, there are some space-specific requirements. Vitamin D needs to be added (lack of sunlight); you can't have sauce (spilling it on the equipment could be disastrous); you need more seasoning (loss of taste in space) but less salt (contributes to bone loss in zero gravity); everything has to have a one-year shelf life; and the food in question should be very light. As in weight, not calories, since it's seriously expensive to transport anything, much less BBQ spare ribs, into space.
But pretty much anything is an improvement (Tang only tastes good if you're having a flashback to 2nd grade) on regular astronaut food. As Wohlfahrt told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, “I felt sorry for the astronauts. It tasted like cat food.” Not to be mean or anything, but putting the food in those little cat food like tins probably doesn't help.