Irradiated Turkey, Thermostabilized Yams: Thanksgiving Dinner in Space
If you're celebrating the holiday outside of Earth, you'll enjoy a bird that "resembles sliced deli meat" and stuffing that has "a broth-heavy, institutional flavor."
You know what's less awesome, though? The food. Sure, you can do a lot of things to space food to make it less space-food-y: You can spice it and sweeten it and try to make it simulate, as much as possible, its Earth-bound counterparts. Ultimately, though, the foodstuffs you're consuming are still desiccated/rehydrated/irradiated/thermostabilized. Which is all compounded by the fact that your taste buds are sort of shot by the whole microgravity thing, anyway.
But it's Thanksgiving! And we celebrate Thanksgiving with our feasting! So how will the six people currently living on the International Space Station, among them two Americans, give their thanks—not so much for the food as with it? Here, per NASA, are the dishes that will grace the only Thanksgiving table whose crazy tablescape is space.
Technically, it's "irradiated smoked turkey." It comes in a sealed foil pouch.According to the AP, the foodstuff that results "resembles sliced deli meat," except it's "stiffer."
That's in part because the turkey "functions just like a canned product," NASA food scientist Vicki Kloeris said in an interview this morning. It has "about a three-year shelf life." The turkey the astronauts will be feasting on this time around was produced "probably about two years ago."
The good: It's cornbread stuffing! The former ISS astronaut Tom Marshburn said it was his favorite dish of all the Thanksgiving offerings! The bad: It "has a broth-heavy, institutional flavor." Also, it comes in a foil pouch.
The good: "homestyle"! The bad: They're rehydrated. (And also, they come in a foil pouch.)
The good: they're candied! The bad: They're thermostabilized. And also,apparently, "bland inside."
These are, as they often would be on Earth, canned. And, as jelly, they come in hotel-style little jam packs.
Well, modified pie: cobbler. In this case, cherry-blueberry cobbler. Which comes, Kloeris says, with "a little bit of crust in there." (That said: "It's not quite the same as having a slice of pice.") It comes in a, yep, foil pouch.
You may notice one thing not on the menu above: gravy. Which is, along with apple pie (the crust doesn't work in space), something of a white whale for space-food science. So far, Kloeris notes, NASA scientists haven't been able to get the ultimate Thanksgiving sauce into space-ready form. The result, for the menu above? "We have no gravy, unfortunately."