Montreal·Point of View

Dinner under the stars: A CBC reporter's take on the out-of-this-world menu developed for astronauts

As Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques prepares for his journey to the International Space Station, the Canadian Space Agency is making sure his appetite is well taken care of when he climbs aboard.

Canadian Space Agency has some treats up its sleeve, namely maple cookies, lobster pâté

The main course was a pescatarian dream, with smoked salmon and lobster paté. (CBC)

As Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques prepares for his journey to the International Space Station, the Canadian Space Agency is making sure his appetite is well taken care of when he climbs aboard.

The standard menu for most astronauts is provided by NASA, but the CSA tries to supplement it with a few items of its own.

CBC reporter Matt D'Amours was invited to try a few things from the menu.


My first impression walking into the tasting room at the Canadian Space Agency headquarters was that it smelled heavily of fish.

The reason for this became immediately clear: there were four varieties of smoked salmon, as well as salmon, lobster and crab pâté.

As part of more than a year-long process to develop the perfect space food, the Canadian Space Agency asked astronaut David Saint-Jacques about his favourite flavours.

I'm told his palate sings for savoury selections, so staff opted for fishy finds.

CBC reporter Matt D'Amours tried the food at the Canadian Space Agency, so you don't have to. (CBC)

All the smoked salmon varieties were great, and they seem like the perfect fit for space food: long shelf life, high in protein, and they require very little preparation.

People usually hate co-workers who bring fish to work, but the space agency says Saint-Jacques' crewmates have given their blessing.

Plus, there's no microwave oven on the space station.

The pâté was served on triangular slices of tortilla, rather than bread. The reason: bread equals crumbs; crumbs plus microgravity equals a bad day on the International Space Station.

There was a diverse offering of dehydrated food at the event, including tomatoes and red peppers. (CBC)

While it might seem weird to spread pâté on a tortilla, if I really think about it, I could see myself doing this if I ran out of bread, and the shops were closed, and no one was looking.

I think pâté is weird, but it ended up being fine.

There were also two varieties of dried vegetables in the spread: red peppers and tomatoes.

The dehydrated peppers made for a light, flavourful snack. The dehydrated tomatoes were actually served as an example of food that won't make it to the space station, because they make too many crumbs.

Any dessert option can be improved by a little drizzled chocolate. (CBC)

Space agency staff told me they tried to find food items that were uniquely Canadian, not only to give Saint-Jacques reminders of home while he's in orbit, but to encourage cross-cultural exchanges with his crewmates.

What's more Canadian than maple cookies and maple syrup? Those are going up too, although the cookies also pose a crumb threat. Astronauts will be encouraged to eat them in one bite (which I was surprised to learn isn't the way most people eat maple cookies) — or gobble them up near air vents.

Just as I was about to try my cookie, someone came with a tube of maple syrup and asked me which food item I wanted it squeezed on. I panicked and blurted out "on the maple cookie, please" and immediately regretted my decision.

I ate it anyway, and I'd describe the combination as being "very maple-y."
No trip to space is complete without a little Quebec maple syrup. (CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt D'Amours

Journalist

Matt D'Amours is a journalist at CBC Montreal.

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