Space food, bacon sandwich made in collaboration with Heston Blumenthal for Tim Peake's journey to the International Space Station, ALTEC. Italy, 2015
This bacon sandwich was developed by celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal, specifically for Tim Peake’s trip to the International Space Station in 2016. It is difficult creating food for space that is appetising when it cannot be cooked or refrigerated. All food must be prepared in advance and either sealed in a tin, a pouch or freeze dried. Each astronaut gets a ‘bonus food’ allowance to help boost morale. Normally this is chosen from a menu, however, Blumenthal specially created seven recipes for Peake’s ‘bonus food’ supply. Blumenthal’s task was to make food that fit the stringent ESA criteria, while also making it taste, look and smell better. Astronauts’ meals are a key factor in the emotional and mental well-being of the astronaut. This was also part of a larger effort by Blumenthal to illustrate the impact that food can have even in the harshest of environments.
The team had to overcome many obstacles. Bread, for example is generally not allowed in space, particularly after US astronaut, John Young, snuck a corned beef sandwich into space, only to have crumbs and bits of corned beef floating around the ISS after the first bite, putting the instrument panels at risk. Blumenthal, however, found that if a dense piece of bread with the crust removed is cooked in a tin, it is free of crumbs. Thus, Blumenthal created the Bacon Sarnie for Tim Peake to enjoy – the first one in space.
Blumenthal set out to create recipes that would remind Peake of his family and his home. Extensive experiments were completed by Blumenthal and his team to try and create the best recipes. Being in zero-gravity impacts the body in ways which effect taste, meaning that food created on Earth would taste bland when eaten in space. He created food in zero-gravity conditions, monitored salt thresholds, acidity, sweetness and moisture migration. Blumenthal tested Peake’s taste parameters to understand exactly what he likes and dislikes. The process that Blumenthal undertook to produce this food was recorded for a Channel 4 documentary, "Heston's Dinner in Space," which aired on 20 March 2016.