Italian chef Davide Scabin, literally putting "star" back in Michelin star cuisine
Italian chef Davide Scabin, literally putting "star" back in Michelin star cuisine
Véronique Zbinden

RIVOLI – Yes, 2013 is the year of the lasagna. We are not only talking about the infamous horse-laced lasagnas, which will soon be a distant memory. For there is also some high-flying lasagnas that will literally soon be in orbit.

The lasagna will be accompanied by pesto risotto, eggplant Parmesan, caponata siciliana (another eggplant dish) and tiramisu. This menu was created using traditional Italian ingredients in an innovative way by Italian chef Davide Scabin. The delicious fare will be taken up to the International Space Station, via a Soyuz spacecraft.

Scabin, an iconoclastic and geeky food design pioneer has a restaurant in Rivoli, on the outskirts of Turin, in an extension of the Museum of Contemporary Art. You could say his cuisine itself is contemporary art – he has two stars in the Michelin guide.

Scabin is the inventor of the “cyberegg” and the liquid “zuppizza” – an irreverent and subtle reinterpretation of the Italian repertoire. His original take on cooking is the reason why a supplier for the European Space Agency contacted him two years ago.

Fascinated by the project, the chef worked with researchers from Parma, Italy, and Germany to create meals that were then sent to Houston for testing. This special mission will also break another record, as it will be the first time an Italian walks in space. No, even though he is an explorer of sorts, Scabin isn’t accompanying his lasagna into space.

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano will spend six months working on the Space Station, bringing the lasagna with him. Lift-off is planned for May 28, from Baikonur, Russia.

The first challenge for Scabin was to eliminate or drastically reduce salt from the recipes, because astronauts are prone to fluid retention. “The maximum amount of salt by ration is 0.5 grams,” says the chef, “so I used stronger flavors, Parmesan or a little soy, powdered tomato together with fresh tomato.”

Strong and concentrated flavors are all the more important because in a weightlessness state, “our perception of flavor is significantly diminished,” says Scabin.

Keep it light

After many experiments, some meals were dehydrated; others sterilized or thermo-stabilized in order to withstand the sorts of pressure and temperatures they will encounter in space.

The other challenge was to keep it light – to reduce volumes and minimize waste. The 250 rations will be stored in ultralight aluminum bags with valves for rehydration.

Each meal has been tasted and approved by the crews. They liked it so much that the American astronauts also ordered the Italian menu.

“These meals remind me of my mamma’s cooking -- comfort food is better than any antidepressant,” said Scabin.

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
Society

Face In The Mirror: Dutch Hairdressers Trained To Recognize Domestic Violence

Early detection and accessible help are essential in the fight against domestic violence. Hairdressers in the Dutch province of North Brabant are now being trained to identify when their customers are facing abuse at home.

Hair Salon Rob Peetoom in Rotterdam

Daphne van Paassen

TILBURG — The three hairdressers in the bare training room of the hairdressing company John Beerens Hair Studio are absolutely sure: they have never seen signs of domestic violence among their customers in this city in the Netherlands. "Or is that naïve?"

When, a moment later, statistics appear on the screen — one in 20 adults deals with domestic violence, as well as one or two children per class — they realize: this happens so often, they must have victims in their chairs.

All three have been in the business for years and have a loyal clientele. Sometimes they have customers crying in the chair because of a divorce. According to Irma Geraerts, 45, who has her own salon in Reusel, a village in the North Brabant region, they're part-time psychologists. "A therapist whose hair I cut explained to me that we have an advantage because we touch people. We are literally close. The fact that we stand behind people and make eye contact via the mirror also helps."

Keep reading... Show less
Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ