But what do Spätzle have to do with Space, and why is this post called "Spätzle in Space"?
Well, you know I have a "thing" for Space in general, and human spaceflight in particular. I read books on the subject (such as this one and this one, the latest one having been this one.
Every now and then, I watch a documentary about Space on telly. This week, I happened to come across one just when I was about to go to bed and thought I'd flick through the channels one last time before switching off. It was about Dr. Alexander Gerst, a young German astronaut who spent half a year aboard the ISS last year.
It is not necessary to repeat his biography or mission details here on the blog; you can read all that on the internet for yourself, if you are interested; for instance, here on ESA's homepage.
I can't remember how I first learned of Dr. Gerst, but I do remember that I followed his progress some time before he flew his "Blue Dot" mission, and kept watching out for mission news.
The town where he was born is about 1 hour's drive from my hometown, and the Technical Institute where he graduated before studying geophysics at Karlsruhe University is even closer. So, by all means, he is a Swabian like me, even though you can hardly detect the accent when he speaks German.
The documentary I watched this week dealt with the preparation of the mission and then the actual mission; what life is like aboard the ISS. Food, going to the toilet, sleeping, working out, conducting experiments, housekeeping... there is certainly never a minute to get bored up there! And in the unlikely event you were indeed getting bored, you could always float to the cupola and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view of Earth in all its fascinating, fragile beauty.
When talking about food, the documentary showed how food in space is rehydrated and heated. It said that the astronauts do not have to miss out on their favourite dishes, and then it mentioned that, for Alexander Gerst, there were of course packets of Spätzle on board.
Now you know what it was that prompted me to write this blog post and name it "Spätzle in Space"! Surprisingly, when I typed "Alexander Gerst Spätzle" in google's search bar, more than 4.000 hits came up - so I'm not the only one to have written about "Spätzle in Space"!
I've often read that the way astronauts perceive the taste of a certain food or spice changes in space. (Credits for the picture below: ISSSpaceFoodsAssortment" by NASA - http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/presskits/spacefood/gallery_jsc2003e63875.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.)
This wikipedia article about space food is really interesting! If you don't want to read it all, here is a bit I didn't know about yet:
Commercial firms Lavazza and Argotec developed an espresso machine, called ISSpresso, for the International Space Station. It can also brew other hot drinks, such as tea, hot chocolate, and broth. On 3 May 2015, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti became the first person to drink freshly brewed coffee in space. While the device serves as a quality-of-life improvement aboard the station, it is also an experiment in fluid dynamics in space. The brewing machine and drinking cups were specially designed to work with fluids in low gravity.Anyway - I do hope Alexander Gerst enjoyed his Spätzle up there! If he ever feels like eating good home-made Spätzle and happens to be near Ludwigsburg, he'll definitely be welcome as my guest.