Finger Foods in Space | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 27.04.2004
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Finger Foods in Space

The European Space Agency has unveiled a new line of cosmic delights that bring tasty Greek and Italian finger foods to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.


We're lovin' it: cosmonauts on the International Space Station

It's considered healthy and it helps people live longer lives. Now astronauts are to become the latest to enjoy a diet of healthy Mediterranean foods. Two Russian astronauts currently residing on the International Space Station are testing menus developed by the Paris-based European Space Agency with culinary themes taken from Italy, Greece and other Mediterranean countries. The meals include sundried tomatoes, aged cheese, Italian white bread, peaches and chocolate.

ESA developed the popular finger foods in response to concerns about the moods and mental health of astronauts cooped up so far away from terra firma. Good foods, ESA officials said, are an important psychological factor that also help keep astronauts in good spirits. Light-years away -- well, not quite, but at least an orbit away -- from their nearest McDonalds, the lucky guinea pigs, cosmonauts Gennadi Padalka and Alexander Kaleri, are helping to prove that fast food in the 21st century can be both tasty and healthy.

To develop its new menus, ESA brought together nutrition experts who worked for months to prepare meals that are easy to eat in an atmosphere of weightlessness where soups or other liquid foods could get really messy. The new meals, they decided, could neither be too fluid nor too crumbly. ESA has also adopted a new method of food preservative that protects a food's nutritious value as well as its color, consistency and flavor.

And what about serving suggestions? The meals' packaging provides a helping hand there: Each portion is packed in a small plastic bag which can be served on aluminum trays. The bags can be cut with scissors and their contents eaten with a fork, just like on Earth.

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