Flying High With Alain Ducasse


Having just taken over the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, the sky’s no longer the limit for gastronaut Alain Ducasse. Now he’s expanding into outer space by creating the food served aboard the International Space Station, the longtime joint project among the E.U., the U.S., and Russia. "There are two happy moments for any astronaut," says Jean-Jacques Favier, who spent 17 days aboard the Columbia shuttle in 1996. "When he’s looking out the window and when he’s having dinner." With this in mind, Ducasse has come up with morale-boosting menus for astronauts who were unimpressed by such NASA rations as pureed turkey and creamed spinach and Russian space eats that ran heavy to fish paste. The new Ducasse menus include dishes like Sicilian caponata, quail roasted in Madeira, and rice cakes with poached fruit. Prepared by the Ecole Hoteliere de Souillac, in southwestern France, these dishes are packed into aluminum and magnesium boxes, which are never fully opened (to prevent contamination of the space compartment). Certain foods are banned from the space menu, too, including onions and beans, because of the fermentation they cause in the stomach—read gas. After an initial sampling of the new menus, German astronaut Ulf Merbold concluded that the food supplied to the ISS should henceforth be "the unique responsibility of the French."

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