Orbital Omakase!!

This is my second post on space food thus far! Check out the first one - Cosmic Culinaria

I'm a pretty darn good cook, but the coronavirus lockdown has me missing all the cuisines I'm not capable of making myself, and sushi is #1 on my list of unrequited cravings by far! Back when I was an investment banker in New York, we often ordered sushi for dinner on our corporate budgets, which were allocated to us as compensation for the late nights we constantly worked. SpaceX is undoubtedly amazing, but working on Wall Street wasn't without its perks! My favorite NY sushi restaurants were Dai Hachi and Hatsuhana (and for all you can eat: Sushi Para can't be beat!!)

Apparently there are meme pages entirely dedicated to Photoshopped space sushi - the Internet never fails to amuse me!

Like it is for us on Earth, food in space is extremely important for the morale of astronauts conducting long-term spaceflights on the International Space Station, and the various space agencies of the world invest a lot of effort developing meals that are both tasty and capable of being stored, prepared, and consumed in zero-G without any appliances. In fact, the astronauts on the ISS even enjoy swapping their meals to get a taste of what other countries' space agencies have concocted, not unlike schoolchildren trading lunches in the cafeteria. Not feeling NASA's beef stew today? See if the Russian cosmonaut next door will trade for his borscht and goulash! 

Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli was craving pizza during ISS Expedition 53, so NASA took pity on him and sent up the ingredients

Me being Asian American, I know if I ever visited the ISS I'd soon be craving my mom's Chinese cooking. But because the Chinese don't cooperate on the ISS, I'd better hope there's a Japanese astronaut on the same crew as me and quickly make friends with him, since that's as close as I'm gonna get! Unlike China's more secretive space program, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) operates openly and even includes their menu on their website, so I poked around to see what they offer!

Soichi Noguchi holding the first ever salmon roll in space on ISS Expedition 22! Full video here 

Sadly, sushi isn't on their regular menu, so my hopes of an orbital omakase are unlikely to come to fruition (fun fact: the Japanese phrase omakase お任せ literally translates as "I leave it up to you"). But sushi was first featured on the ISS in 2010, when Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi brought some raw fish as a special treat when he lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome to start his mission. And the Japanese space program's menu still looks darn appetizing, even without the likes of sashimi and nigiri: options include freeze-dried ramen, various powdered curries with rice, smoked mackerel and sardines, green tea, and sweet bean cakes! The list continues to grow, as in recent years JAXA has sought commercial proposals to add new items like chicken yakitori and seaweed salad

I think I could survive on Japanese space food for a year, these look pretty darn good!

For what it's worth, I did look up what food the Chinese space program supplies their astronauts, and it sounds pretty good too! They got treats like Sichuan spiced beef, char siu pork, pickled cabbage, fried rice, and moon cakes. Too bad NASA is banned by Congress from working with the Chinese due to fears of espionage, but in the event that changes in the future, and in the far unlikelier event I ever get to visit space, I look forward to swapping meals with them as well to get a taste of home

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