So much for exploring Mars with a glass of Tang in my hand. But at least I know there will be Spam.
As a card-carrying member of the moon-shot generation during the 1960s, my imagination has been captured by Hi-SEAS, a four-month experiment in how a human crew would eat on a long space mission.
A six-member crew will spend 120 days, from April until August, in an isolated “space station” in Hawaii while they work on strategies. It’s a joint project of the University of Hawaii and Cornell University. Hi-SEAS stands for Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation.
And it includes a recipe contest.
The mission is part of NASA’s effort to look at the risks associated with long-term space exploration and tries to come up with solutions. It won’t do any good to build spacecraft if we don’t think of how to live in them.
And while we can sometimes think of food as a trivial part of our lives, it’s really one of the most important things we do every day.
What we eat, when we eat, how we eat. Eating together, eating alone. Eating what we want, eating what we should. Does anything make us more human than that?
So, for four months, the Hi-SEAS crew will stay in a station that looks like a can and cook, sometimes from cans.
What they cook is where the rest of us come in. The project is holding a recipe contest right now for what to make from their list of ingredients. Got any killer appetizers using canned eel and polenta?
Looking down the ingredient list, I noticed quite a few puzzlers. They’ll have the Korean condiment gochujang but not the Thai-style hot sauce sriracha.
I’m guessing the location in Hawaii would explain why they’re stocking freeze-dried poi.
I had to grab for my food dictionary to figure out furikake (a dried ground fish powder you sprinkle on rice) and harusame (cellophane noodles).
It’s definitely a multicultural list. They get tortillas and kasha, posole and peanut butter. Someone has a sense of humor, too: The list of textured vegetable proteins (fake meat) includes “baconish.”
To enter the contest and follow the blog posts, go to hi-seas.org. You need to make a recipe, take a picture of it and post it on the website by 11:59 p.m. March 8. (That’s Hawaii Standard Time; on the East Coast, it’s due by 4:59 a.m. March 9. See what space exploration can teach you?)
From March 9 until March 27, you can vote on the submitted recipes online. Finalist recipes will be made on the station and the winners announced in August.
The prize? A T-shirt. And knowing you advanced the exploration of space using Spam and poi.