Dubai: What does the Emirati space food taste like? Resident astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) have finally shared their verdict.
The UAE’s first astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori shared a meal featuring the Emirati cuisine with his eight space colleagues on the ISS during this visit two weeks ago. The UAE saw snaps of the get-together but never got to hear from the astronauts what they thought.
Now, in a minute-long video which Hazzaa shared on Twitter on Monday afternoon, two astronauts spoke about how much they enjoyed that bonding activity over food.
The video, titled Space Chronicles with Luca Parmitano, featured European Space Agency astronaut Luca and Nasa astronaut Drew Morgan.
“Many thanks to all the astronauts for taking their time away from our experiments and duties to share some personal time and connect our cultures together,” Hazzaa said in a tweet.
In the video, station commander Luca said they tried out something “amazing” that day.
“Today we had an amazing lunch of specialties from the United Arab Emirates that were brought up in a space format just for us,” Luca said.
Drew agreed and said it was refreshing to have something new on the station.
“Having space food written in Arabic on board was a really welcome addition to the cuisine on board because we have space food from so many different countries. We have Italian food, we have French food, Japanese food, Russian food, American food, and now we’re adding to the mix food from the Middle East for the first time,” Drew said.
He added: “And we were able to enjoy that altogether, all nine of us around one table. It’s a terrific experience like you said.”
They did not only share food. They also learned about the UAE’s culture and heritage through Hazzaa.
“There’s nothing like shared food to share a cultural experience and bonding and camaraderie among the crew,” Drew said.
On the menu are the balaleet, a traditional, sweet Emirati breakfast dish of egg and vermicelli, the saloona, a stew made up of spicy vegetables with meat or fish, and the madrooba, which is salt-cured fish seasoned with spices in a pot.
The astronauts also said that having Hazzaa onboard was a great experience.
“For his country, he’s [Hazzaa] the Yuri Gagarin or the Alan Shepard. He’s the first for his nation so it’s a big deal and it’s an honour to have him onboard,” Drew said.
The video showed the crew chatting, laughing and enjoying the meal together. It ended with Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir “throwing” what looked like a fruit for Drew to catch with his mouth.