In the history of cooking, there has never been a more challenging environment than cooking in the craft in which humans take to the skies. The tale begins with meals aboard balloons and zeppelins, where cooking was accomplished below explosive bags of hydrogen, ending with space station dinners that were cooked thousands of miles below. Richard Foss’s book Food in the Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies is the first to chart that history worldwide, exploring the intricacies of inflight dining from 1783 to the present day, aboard balloons, zeppelins, land-based aircraft and flying boats, jets, and spacecraft. It charts the ways in which commercial travelers were lured to try flying with the promise of familiar foods, explains the problems of each aerial environment and how chefs, engineers, and flight crew adapted to them, and tells the stories of pioneers in the field. Hygiene and sanitation were often difficult, and cultural norms and religious practices had to be taken into account. The history is surprising and sometimes humorous—at times some ridiculous ideas were tried, and airlines offered some strange meals to try to attract passengers. It’s an engrossing story with quite a few twists and turns, and this first book on the subject tells it with a light touch.
The book has gotten good prepublication reviews from Booklist and both culinary and aviation historians, as you can see on this page:
Richard Foss has been writing about food and drink professionally since 1986, when he started reviewing restaurants for the Los Angeles Reader newspaper. Since then he has written for over twenty different publications, including contributing articles to the Encyclopedia of World Food Cultures and the upcoming Oxford Companion to Sweets. He is currently on the board of the Culinary Historians of Southern California, is the California Curator for the Museum of the American Cocktail, and has written a book on the history of rum that was released by Reaktion Books in April of 2012. His book, Food in the Air and Space; the Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies, was recently released, and Shortening The Chain: Can We Live on What We Grow will be published in fall of 2015.
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