The Atlantic reveals a culinary secret of near-Earth orbit. Astronauts love shrimp cocktail – and here’s why:
Without gravity to pull blood toward the feet, especially during the first few days in space, “your head sort of inflates like someone is squeezing the bottom of a balloon,” explains current astronaut Chris Hadfield. The results are clogged sinuses and the hindered flavor reception that comes with them. “It’s kind of like having a cold; you’re kind of stuffy,” Charles Bourland, formerly NASA’s manager for space station food, puts it.
So why the popularity of the cosmic crustaceans — a dish whose particular flavors and textures, no offense to shrimp or to cocktails, would seem uniquely ill-suited to space?
It comes down, as so many things do, to the sauce. A sauce that, Charles Bourland put it, “has a pretty good bite.” Spicy foods aren’t just refreshingly tastable in space; they also seem to “wake up” the taste buds for the Swedish meatballs and the mashed potatoes and the other food that might follow them.
Capt. Story Musgrave has turned himself into an evangelist for shrimp cocktail, telling other astronauts to place their orders early and often. We here are glad to help him spread the word.