What about the dressing?



The space salad news came out a fortnight ago, and I’ll skip all the scientific details you can read about on their official website*. If you missed it, NASA got astronauts to grow their own romaine lettuce aboard the International Space Station… and eat it.

It’s supposed to be a huge quality-of-life step ahead for future missions, with an ongoing debate on whether benefits will be in terms of being able to eat healthy fresh organic food or in terms of surviving future years-long mission. Or whether they’ll be mainly psychological benefits. The astronauts are meant to have liked the stuff but the pictures of the “Veggie” system are far from reassuring, typical sci-fi monster incubator, and not just because of the quality of the LED lighting. Researchers are looking into future space fruit cultivation, I guess fruit would probably work better as a marketing and overall image booster than present efforts.

Psychological benefits do open up new horizons, in terms of just-like-on-Mother-Earth homegrown food, to make astronauts feel self-sustaining and they could also go into gardening as out-in-space individual or team hobbies or even competitions. My apple’s rounder than yours type of thing.

I noticed the news because the salad was red romaine, which inexplicably tickled the pride of my fellow Roman citizens (?). I was curious for more details, one astronaut claimed it actually tasted more like arugula. But I’ve been looking everywhere for more specifics on the dressing. Wherever all this leads to eventually, I’m left really wondering about the dressing.

Apart from the fact tastes in salad dressing vary enormously, from straight French vinaigrette to Mediterranean citrus and oil, to cold clime varieties of dill based liquiddy creams, not to mention Asian spiced specials, how does dressing actually behave when you toss a salad in gravity-challenged environments? Floating drops you have to catch with the leaves (frustrating and/or fun), nano-comets hurtling at you (dangerous) or just an overall feeling of a London-type drizzle you can’t see but do get a whiff of on your tongue (three star Chef’s molecular)?

Any space scientists our there?


Memories of earth (salad patch)

Memories of earth (salad patch)

photos:  salad patch    www.grow-it-organically.com

              salad dressings       http://www.salvagente.co.za

This entry was posted in Food, Humour, Science and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to What about the dressing?

  1. dressing floating up the nose!

  2. Ellen Hawley says:

    You’ve got me worried now.

  3. Mél@nie says:

    very interesting… even though I’ve known “tout ça”, as I lived in Houston, TX – NASA area for 5 years and mon cher et tendre is a rocket & satellite scientist… 🙂

    • Bea dM says:

      coool! I’m fascinated by everything universe-related. Working on a CERN cultural project right now, which I’ll post about in a few weeks

    • Bea dM says:

      Ellie you’re a dear! Many thanks, I’m very honoured – I’m in a tear today, but will follow your instructions before packing 🙂

  4. nananoyz says:

    Interesting! And who would want salad sans dressing?

  5. kevinbcohen says:

    Now that you point it out, I’m not even clear on how tossing the lettuce would go in zero gravity…

    • Bea dM says:

      yes, it does get pretty funny if you really think about it 🙂

    • Bea dM says:

      On second thought, I realised it’s English that makes it really graphic: tossing is a very physical action where you imagine salad being almost mishandled in the process of adding the dressing, whereas other languages have much tamer descriptions: remuer (French), mezclar (Spanish), condire (Italian) etc., where lack of gravity would presumably play a lesser role 🙂

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