Cleaning out my shelves the other day in preparation for my 3 months trip to Arizona, a mysterious, shiny bag fell into my hands, featuring the picture of an astronaut in space. “Freeze dried ready to eat space food”, yuck, here’s the first phrase that always gives me chills “ready to eat food”, but then reading on, I really get suspicious: “ICE CREAM”. Wait, room temperature ice cream? Doesn't that sound like molecular gastronomy...?
I remembered my colleague Anita once gave it to me, since I was so curious about this ‘ice cream’ but then I had completely forgotten about it. Supposed to be on a complete organic and raw food diet now, I first hesitated. Only reading the ingredients is kind of scary: modified potato starch (the potato was not starchy enough...?), FD&C Red # 40 (colouring...maybe used for all: Food, Dying and Creams...?), Cocoa processed with alkali stabilized and emulsified by mono and diglycerides (yup, just plain cocoa would be a little boring). Even though there seems to be nothing unmodified and natural left in this thing labeled ice cream, curiosity took over and I had give it a try.
The taste was stunningly similar to the real Neapolitan ice cream wafer, except dry and ambient tempered, a bit like biting into dust that magically then melts in an ice-cream like manor. Calling this “magic” molecular cuisine, however, would for sure be a rude offense to Heston Blumenthal or Ferran Adrìa, the two ingenious pioneers of this next generation nouveau cuisine. I even packed it in the freezer overnight and tried again next day. It didn’t change it’s temperature or consistency! Ready to eat astronaut food that withstands all exterior conditions, probably even your digestive acids that are supposed to break it down in your body.
One childhood’s dream just got destroyed. Would I miss a fresh apple-carrot-mint smoothie like I had one for breakfast this morning:
- 3 small UNMODIFIED organic carrots, theirs stalks hand-cut-off
- 1 organic apple, handpicked from the farmer I bought it from
- 1 handful of just simple plain cashews and almonds, soaked overnight in water
- 1 SUN-dried fig (not freeze and vacuum dried in a lab), soaked overnight in water
- 4 leaves of fresh mint from my real plant on my balcony (no "natural" mint flavors)
- 2 tea spoons organic super green powder, being just ground up algae and grasses
- some ice cubes and plain water
Now what would the astronaut’s version list of ingredients look like?
Apple puree (apples, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, water, FD&C Green #26, modified potato starch), natural carrot extract, beta-carotene extract, artificial flavor and vegetable annatto color.
Sounds mouthwatering, doesn’t it? Now, I don’t want to be sarcastic here and I do realize the particularity of this special food. Of course, you can’t grow organic produce on the NASA space station, nor can your spin together a smoothie. But does it need to be Neapolitan ice cream? Why can’t it be something without all the colorings and numbers and additives? And if you browse the shelves of today’s super markets and scan the list of ingredients of most of the processed foods you can find there it doesn’t look any different. Why do we need all these highly processed foods that leave not even a trace of the once natural ingredient that might be buried under all the ‘E’s and ‘#’s? That’s the question it really comes down to.