Project

Tasting Menu in Zero G

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MIT Media Lab

Steve Boxall

A multi-course tasting menu was flown on a zero gravity flight in August 2019.  Food researcher and aspiring space chef, Maggie Coblentz, consumed five specially crafted dishes in a custom space food helmet to investigate the sensory and physiological experience of eating in zero gravity. The space food helmet prototype is under development to become a personalized multi-sensory and fully immersive floating "restaurant" for astronauts and future space tourists. It will include image projection, scent, sound and interchangeable sets of custom dishware and utensils designed for zero gravity. 

A multi-course tasting menu was flown on a zero gravity flight in August 2019.  Food researcher and aspiring space chef, Maggie Coblentz, consumed five specially crafted dishes in a custom space food helmet to investigate the sensory and physiological experience of eating in zero gravity. The space food helmet prototype is under development to become a personalized multi-sensory and fully immersive floating "restaurant" for astronauts and future space tourists. It will include image projection, scent, sound and interchangeable sets of custom dishware and utensils designed for zero gravity. 

Copyright

MIT Media Lab

Copyright

MIT Media Lab

Tasting Menu: 

Sounds of Mirepoix. Maggie Coblentz collaborated with researchers from the International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) to create a custom aroma. The scent of onions and vegetables sauteed in butter were diffused into a space food helmet while listening to the sounds of butter sizzling in a pan. Astronauts suffer from decreased appetites and this type of multi-sensory pre-meal experience could enhance their anticipation of a meal in enclosed space environments where food is pre-packaged and pre-prepared.  

Champagne Toast. Tailor-made champagne flavored popping candy could remind us of our Earth-based food rituals and enhance mouthfeel in space, where most food is currently uniform in texture. 

Algae Caviar. We are exploring new techniques and applications for developing space food based on closed-loop food systems for enclosed self-reliant space habitats. Algae Caviar is a recipe made with ingredients that can be grown and prepared in space using Molecular Gastronomy spherification techniques to create refreshing bursts of flavor.

Umami. Astronauts report a decreased sense of taste in space, in part due to fluid shifts in the body. Miso was taste tested in zero gravity to assess first-hand if umami (i.e. savory taste) could be harnessed to help intensify flavor perception in space. New flavors will evolve through the migration of ingredients to outer space; our ongoing space fermentation research aims to map the journey of a new space "terroir".  Later this year we will be sending samples of miso to the International Space Station (ISS) to understand how the “microbiome of the ISS” may uniquely alter the fermentation process and flavor profiles of food. 

Silicone Bones. Eating experiences are limited in space and new tools for eating could add a much need sense of play to food. Silicone Bones are inspired by the unique environment of zero gravity where we have no need for a flat kitchen table to place our food and utensils. Food can float and be spun! It is also possible that the raw and gritty parts of our meals (crumbs, bones, pits and cores, etc.) may be missed in space when food is mainly pre-prepared. Silicone Bones could help bring back some of these more human elements. 

These dishes will be included in our ongoing Interplanetary Cookbook project. Learn more and contribute here!

Copyright

Maggie Coblentz

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Maggie Coblentz