High French gastronomy is now going up to space!
The finest French gastronomy has now literally reached the highest possible levels and has been sent into space for Thomas Pesquet’s latest mission!
Indeed, the famous Michelin-starred Chef Thierry Marx, particularly renowned for his molecular gastronomy, and the chemist Raphaël Haumont, directors of the Centre Français de l’Innovation Culinaire, developed and created together some highly gourmet and innovative meals at the Université Paris-Saclay, for the astronaut to enjoy during his stay on board of the International Space Station (ISS).
As most of you know, the much publicised Thomas Pesquet, astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA), was selected by Elon Musk’s famous company, SpaceX, to take off on the 23rd April 2021 from Cape Canaveral in Florida, to reach the ISS for six months. For the occasion, he will have the chance to take part in this innovative culinary project and taste four new starred meals developed exclusively to be savoured in space: potato and Roscoff onion cakes with truffle, seven-hour slow-cooked beef with a cèpe sauce, an almond tart with caramelised pears, and an experimental recipe based on freeze-dried cherry tomatoes. In this mission of molecular cuisine, Haumont focused on the transformation of raw materials, while Chef Marx concentrated on the recipes, the taste and the emotions that the meal could create.
The Chef aimed to create meals for astronauts to enjoy a change from the usually bland and freeze-dried food and he explained that they worked with very high quality products to ensure that the flavours are as tasteful as possible. This was very important because, while in space, astronauts suffer from ageusia, a significant loss of taste. To counter this, Chef Marx opted for advanced caramelisation of dishes, capturing flavour molecules that need to be protected. As explained by Haumont, another problem they encountered was the inability to use powdered spices to add extra flavour. As a result, he said that they developed pepper water with cymes pepper in their laboratory, in a process that allows flavours to be extracted and then recovered in a liquid state. Moreover, on top of the very strict rules outlines by the European Space Agency, Thierry Marx also took into account Thomas Pesquet’s personal tastes. For instance, he included mushrooms in his recipes because he knew they are one of the astronaut’s favourite foods.
The two experts also examined ways to package the dishes in a light and plastic-free way by studying biomimicry. Their aim was to recreate as closely as possible the protective membrane of certain fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, which are made up almost entirely of water, by using algae and pectins.
However, Thierry Marx is not the only one undertaking gourmet experimentations in space. In fact, fifteen months ago Space Cargo Unlimited sent twelve bottles of the famous Bordeaux wine Château Petrus in space through the French-Italian Alenia Space and the US company Nanoracks, to study the impact the change in gravity would have on the wine. After the bottles returned to Earth on a SpaceX rocket in January 2021 and they were tasted, fortunately, they all maintained a very good aroma. Five professional experts examined the wine at the Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vins in Bordeaux in March, and although they noticed some differences in colour, the complexity of the wines was miraculously maintained. Besides these Château Petrus bottles, 320 wine canes were also sent to space. Although the findings are only at a preliminary stage, it seems like the canes grew faster than they would have on Earth, a result that could potentially help the wine industry in their future development.
Will this be the new frontier of high gastronomy? It might be too early to say, but these projects are a clear sign that the culinary world is definitely working to expand towards the most innovative and technological methods, and we can’t wait to see what more is yet to come!
Moreover, stay tuned, ArtLuxury might have an exciting space-related surprise!