Cooking in space presents a special challenge: how do you prepare food with no gravity? Bread crumbs or condiments you’d sprinkle can drift away, potentially damaging or clogging equipment. Even larger items, like utensils or the food itself, may float elsewhere if not properly clamped in place. The recipes an astronaut uses to stay fed resemble the unwritten cookbook of broke college students. Still, it’s a little more complicated that tossing mac and cheese into a microwave-safe bowl.
NASA’s Johnson Space Center recently posted a video of Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a staple of hungry children everywhere. But as Kimbrough demonstrates, it takes velcro and a lot of juggling. He uses a tortilla for his PB&J because he’s floating above the planet; I used a tortilla last week because I was too lazy to walk 10 minutes to a grocery store.
Kimbrough isn’t the first person to record culinary achievements in space. YouTube is a treasure trove of similar videos. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield had a series of “space kitchen” videos in which he made everything from desserts to burritos, a far more appetizing option than the space burger.
ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti had a particularly professional recipe to share: whole red rice and turmeric chicken. Cristoforetti had no plate to work with, so she used a tortilla instead. Tortillas, they serve many roles. To get everything to stick, she applied “peas cream” (ew?) to the tortilla, which floats around her while she handles prep work.
The finished products don’t look great, but in space, no one can hear you scream about presentation. (I’m sorry.) Besides, who cares about a neat garnish when you can reenact the movie Jaws with a hunk of meat and your mouth?