Food from out of this world

posted in: Clive Gifford, Ian Graham, Sue Becklake | 2

One day last week when the kids came in from school and I handed them this:

mission

When they checked their emails they found these links waiting for them:

  • Nasa pages about eating in space.
  • The UK’s National Space Centre on what Astronauts eat in space, including a video of Commander Hadfield.
  • Videos about space food on the Science Channel.
  • Information about a (now closed) competition for schoolchildren to design a meal for British astronaut Tim Peake.
  • A video from the recent Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti about the food she likes in space (she returned to earth just earlier this month).

  • Having watched a few of these, I then undid the “airlock” into our kitchen and they found this:

    throughtheairlock

    And the next hour was spent with M and J experimenting with recipes for meals we might be able to eat on the International Space Station. I (with hindsight: foolishly) promised I would eat anything they prepared for tea.

    spacefood4

    The velcroed packets of dried and / or powdered food available to the space chefs included:

  • Powdered coffee
  • Instant hot chocolate
  • Powdered custard
  • Strawberry pudding powder (Angel Delight)
  • Instant porridge with golden syrup flavour
  • Dried milk
  • Cup-A-Soup powder
  • Instant pasta
  • Dried fried onion bits
  • Dried coconut chips
  • Dried banana slices
  • A tube of tomato purée
  • A tube of garlic purée
  • A tube of vegetarian pate
  • Freeze dried strawberries

  • Basically I went to the supermarket and just chose a selection of dried and/or powdered foodstuffs, and a few interesting things in tubes…. It was quite eye opening to see what’s available. Alsp, as I couldn’t simulate all aspects of the International Space Station, I provided them with hot and cold water on tap to mix into their ingredients if they wished to.

    And here are the final dishes they prepared for me:

    spacefood3

    Clockwise from top left: Golden syrup porridge and custard, pate and tomato paste tortilla with crunchy banana bits, hot chocolate strawberry pudding and tomato and garlic stew. (!!)

    The girls loved measuring out and mixing up the ingredients, but most of all they loved making me squirm as I attempted to eat what they had made.

    Do I love my children? Perhaps a funny thing to ask in the middle of a post about space travel, but it was a question I had to repeatedly put to myself as I ate their four course meal….

    spacefood2

    I do love my children, but eating their food was a challenge. There’s no other polite way of phrasing it… I don’t think I’m cut out to be an astronaut.

    But at least once I’d had plenty of water to drink and brushed my teeth several times to get rid of the flavours, we had books to put us all to rights again.

    spaceboojks

    100 Facts Space Travel by Sue Becklake, 100 Facts Stars and Galaxies by Clive Gifford and 100 Facts Solar System by Ian Graham recently arrived in our home and have been the spark for many curious conversations since then. “Mum, did you know that there’s an exoplanet which might be just one GIANT diamond, 4000 kilometres wide?”, “Mum, mum, mum, can I watch this film about a mission to Jupiter’s moon called Europa?”, “Mum, did you know you have to tie yourself to the toilet in space?!”….

    An excerpt from 100 facts Space Travel
    An excerpt from 100 facts Space Travel

    Each book groups facts around sub-themes. For example, in the book about space travel there are collections of facts to do with spacesuits, space tourists, and even space travel in books and films whilst in the book about stars and galaxies there are facts groups around themes such as the birth of a star, black holes, and the search for extraterrestrial life. A wide variety of images are used to illustrate the facts – photos, drawings, comic strips and even images of historic documents and artefacts, helping to create a collage or pin-board feel to the books. Peppered throughout the pages are mini-quizzes and the occasional practical activity, such as using a balloon to illustrate the expansion of the universe.

    An excerpt from 100 Facts Solar System
    An excerpt from 100 Facts Solar System

    Perfectly pitched to appeal to my 7 and 10 year old, these are great books for dipping in and out of. The short snippets of information make it easy to read “just one more”, and the range of information included plenty of facts which my kids were delighted by and hadn’t come across before, even though we’ve quite a few space books at home. These books would also, no doubt, work really well in primary schools.

    An excerpt from 100 Facts Stars and Galaxies
    An excerpt from 100 Facts Stars and Galaxies

    Whilst we experimented with our space food we listened to:

  • This BBC Radio programme about the sound of space.
  • This collection of space sounds from NASA. What’s really cool about these recordings is that you can use them yourself, for example in your own storytelling or film-making.
  • Space Girl’s Song by Peggy Seeger


  • Other activities you could enjoy alongside the three space books from Miles Kelly include:

  • Making your own planets
  • Creating your own spacesuits
  • Building up your own constellation with LEDs
  • spaceactivities


    What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve eaten recently? Would you travel into space if you could?

    Disclosure: I received free review copies of the books which inspired our space food odyssey from their publisher.

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    2 Responses

    1. SIMONE FRASER

      Regardless of how old one grows, we should never lose sight of how amazing and miraculous our universe is. And what is necessary to eat if we are ever out in it!

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