Tasting Menu in Zero G


MIT Media Lab

Steve Boxall

 A multi-course tasting menu was flown on a zero gravity flight in August 2019.  Five specially crafted dishes were consumed 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, and sound, in addition to  interchangeable dishware and utensils uniquely designed for zero gravity. 


Sounds of Mirepoix. A special aroma was created in collaboration with researchers from the International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF). The scent of onions and vegetables sauteed in butter were diffused into a custom 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 of the current space food is uniform in texture. 

Algae Caviar. 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. A suite of algae-based recipes, that can be grown and created in situ, are being developed for enclosed self-reliant space habitats.

Miso. 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. Astronauts report a decreased sense of taste in space, in part due to fluid shifts in the body. Learn more about Maggie’s ongoing fermentation research here.

Silicone Bones. Food-safe silicone bones were tested as a new space utensil, to add a sense of play to eating in zero gravity.

These dishes will be included in The Interplanetary Cookbook project.