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Food in the Air and Space

The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies

Richard Foss

Hardback
Paperback
eBook
In the history of cooking, there has been no more challenging environment than those craft in which humans took 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.

This book 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.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 248Size: 6 3/8 x 9 1/4
978-1-4422-2728-6 • Hardback • December 2014 • $38.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-4422-7239-2 • Paperback • May 2016 • $25.00 • (£15.95)
978-1-4422-2729-3 • eBook • December 2014 • $24.99 • (£15.95)
Series: Food on the Go
Richard Foss has been writing about food and drink since 1986, when he became restaurant reviewer for the Los Angeles Reader Newspaper. Since then he has written for over twenty different publications, both journalistic and academic, authored a book on the history of rum, and written scholarly articles for the Encyclopedia of World Food Cultures and Oxford Companion to Sweets. He is currently on the board of the Culinary Historians of Southern California and is the California Curator for the Museum of the American Cocktail and the SoFAB Institute. You can see a full bio and read more of his writings at www.richardfoss.com.
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The First Toast
1: The Forerunners: Lessons From The Balloon Era
2: Luxury In The Skies—The Zeppelin Era
3: The Early Days of The Airplane Age (1920-1930)
4: Sidebar—The Technology of Heat in Flight before 1940
5: From 1930 to the Second World War—Diverging Paths
6: Land-based Craft From 1930 to the Outbreak of War
7: Sidebar—A Window Into The Design Process
8: World War II and the Postwar Bonanza (1941-50)
9: Sidebar—Physiology of Taste in Flight
10: Competition, Regulation, and the Jet Age (1950-58)
11: Sidebar: Airline Food in Popular Culture
12: Jet Age Mass Transit and Luxury Competition (1958-66)
13: Sidebar: Technology of Heat in Flight, Part Two
14: Jumbo Jets, Excess, and Cultural Expression (1966-75)
15: Sidebar—The Elusive History of Special Meals
16: Years of Chaos and Change (1975-85)
17: Sidebar—Designing The Flying Meal
18: The Decline And Fall of Inflight Dining (1985-Present)
19: Tubes and Cubes: Food in space (1961-65)
20: Commercialization of Space Food on Earth
21: Apollo, Soyuz, and Variety In Space (1966-1994)
22: Sidebar—The Difficulties of Cooking in Space
23: Shuttles, The ISS, and Taikonauts (1981-Present)
24: Recipes
Recommended Reading: Books and Websites
Appendix: Unsolved Questions
Index
Since 1783, when the first passenger balloon was launched, the history of food has included the challenge of preparing and serving food while airborne. Foss offers a historical look at how meals have been prepared and consumed, in wartime and peacetime, during air travel in vehicles ranging from balloons to zeppelins, from airplanes to spacecraft. Drawing on archives and interviews, Foss includes photographs, diagrams, and menus depicting the fabulous and the rudimentary, everything from gourmet meals to snacks. As air travel evolved from a luxury for adventurers, with meals to match, to fairly mundane, crowded journeys offering peanuts, inventors and airlines have struggled with the dangers of maintaining safety and hygiene thousands of miles in the air. Foss offers details behind the technology and culinary arts in flights from the 1928 Lufthansa flight that first offered hot meals to the Hindenburg in 1936 to the food technology, including Tang, that grew out of the space-exploration programs. This fascinating book includes recipes the airlines collected and adapted for home use.
Booklist


Food in the Air and Space and Food at Sea, the second and third titles in Ken Albala’s 'Food on the Go' series, trace the surprising, sometimes humorous, histories of food prepared for long-distance air, space, and ocean voyages. Foss and Spalding both bring unique perspectives to these works. Foss is a culinary historian whose areas of expertise are beverages and the history of immigrant contributions to California cuisine, while Spalding is a consultant for historic programs, a maritime historian, and a musician. Each well-researched book follows a chronological sequence that clearly shows how the food prepared and served on watercraft, aircraft, and spacecraft developed in conjunction with the vehicles themselves, as well as the advancement of nutrition studies, technology, military science, and the tourism industry. Food in the Air and Space includes special chapters on the design of food trays and servings for airlines, the effects of altitude changes on taste, airline food represented in popular culture, space food commercialization on Earth, and the challenges of cooking in space. . . .Summing Up: Recommended. General, undergraduate, and professional culinary history collections.
CHOICE


Richard Foss' Food in The Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in The Skies explores the fascinating history of culinary fare off the earth, the adventures, the mechanics of in air cooking, and serving, and the characters who pursued good food and drink in the air. . . .The book is well illustrated with posters, menus, maps, and photographs of "stewardesses" and pilots in their kitchens. . . .Food in The Air and Space would make a great gift for anyone interested in flight - especially a younger person thinking about a career. It's more than just a history of the food - it's a book full of fun facts about the history of aviation - the characters, the stories, and, of course, the cooking.
Super Chef


From the soil to the plate, the story of food is a fascinating, and at times unpalatable journey. An often overlooked aspect of the gastronomical journey has also grown from the ground, but much higher than our tables, up into the atmosphere on balloons to commercial airlines and beyond into Earth orbit and even to the moon, where simple plates become irrelevant. Many of us now fly around the world and either enjoy, or complain about the meals we eat in that journey. In Food in the Air and Space Richard Foss reveals the surprising and at times challenging developments over the past century in the quest to make food palatable in the air and beyond.
David J. Shayler, FBIS, Astronautical Historian, Astro Info Service, Ltd, UK


Richard Foss invites us on a food journey, one many of us have made, and yet forgotten about: What we eat while flying. The trials and tribulations of humanity’s struggle to fly are matched only by one other quest: what’s for dinner? With verve and wit, Foss uncovers many nuggets of information that describe how a most basic human activity becomes a logistical nightmare in flight and in space.

Where flight was cause for celebration, the appropriate menu was always available, only on the ground. On the other hand, entertaining passengers on board with food became a whole new challenge that also helped airlines brand themselves. And just when one thought that a measly peanut was just that, Foss notes how it became as much part of a marketing identity as a fine “Côte du Rhône.”

Readers will derive a new understanding and appreciation for how hard it actually is to develop a proper airline menu. And our admiration for astronauts and cosmonauts should increase when considering what they were told to ingest to survive in space! Jaded travellers as much as casual ones will find Foss’ survey quite informative, and might want to add their experiences to it. It is an enjoyable descriptive survey on a long discussed, yet rarely researched topic.
Guillaume de Syon, professor of history, Albright College


Whatever you might want to know about the history of eating in flight Richard Foss has the answers. Foss is particularly strong on the relationship between technology and food and food and the airlines’ commercial priorities. The research underpinning the text is impressive. While starts with eighteenth-century balloon flight and ends with space travel, the focus of the book is commercial aviation. A valuable contribution to the history of airline food, a genre of cuisine that most of us frequently experience but know very little about.
William Rubel, food historian


In a world where food is something we share socially with friends and loved ones, Foss' illustrative history of food in the air sheds light on why and how airplanes have slowly but surely become the one place where food doesn't foster a warm social environment.
Amy Shira Teitel, Spaceflight Historian and Writer, Popular Science


While you are flying somewhere, crammed into a narrow space like a canned sardine offered only a meagre soft drink or maybe tiny bag of peanuts, or even a barely edible meal, leaf through your copy of Food in the Air and Space and dream on about the glory days of dining while flying. This is a totally engrossing survey of what people have cooked and eaten while hurtling through or above the skies, from the Hindenburg’s Fattened Duckling, Bavarian Style to TWA’s Le Canard a L’Orange Au Grand Mariner, to “Tubes and Cubes” food aboard spacecraft, and more. You will even look fondly back to days when people actually looked forward to flying and dining.
Bruce Kraig, professor emeritus of History, Roosevelt University, Chicago, Founding President, Culinary Historians of Chicago; author, Man Bites Dog: Hot Dog Culture in America and Hot Dog: A Global History


Richard Foss’ book Food in the Air & Space is remarkable for not only telling the remarkable history and strategy story of cuisine above the clouds, but in an unexpected parallel intricacy weaves the tale of commercial flight and the passenger experience. From the first meal served in a balloon to French aristocracy, gourmet meals aboard the Graf Zeppelin & the Pan Am Clippers to the more prosaic fare offered as flying became more routine, and finally to the disparity gap that exists today between the well fed have’s in premium cabins and the have not’s in economy, this story is spiced with many delicious facts that will leave you never looking at or tasting airline food the same way again.
Chris Sloan, Editor-In-Chief/Founder AirwaysNews.com


Deeply researched and beautifully written, Food in the Air and Space brings history to life and will be enjoyed by aviation buffs and foodies alike. In all the aviation and space research I have done, I never once considered the food…but a people, be they travelers or explorers, need to eat. Food in the Air and Space, by gifted author Richard Foss, brings this little known history to life.
Eric Boehm, curator, Aviation and Aircraft Restoration, Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum


An engaging history – and nicely illustrated too – for anyone who is either a fan of aviation history or food, and doubly so for anyone who has a foot in both camps. Well-researched, the book delves into areas of commercial and military flight, as well as the technologies that made dining aloft something more than a matter of mere sustenance. No matter how much you already know about aviation history, Food in the Air and Space will leave you better informed, and enjoying the journey too.
Doug Miller, website administrator, Pan Am Historical Foundation


Reducing airborne catering to a question of 'chicken or beef?' pokes fun at complex technical, social, and health considerations that have evolved to accommodate changing aspects of flying such as air journey schedules and lengths, passenger and crew demographics, cabin luggage allowances, airline economics, and aircraft size. Food in the Airand Space is a fabulous feast of fact, anecdote, and memory about carrying, preparing, serving, and eating food and drink. The vessels are balloons, airships, aircraft, and spacecraft. Foss delves into food streams and technologies: weight, packaging, storage, freezing, heating, sourcing, ingredients, and waste disposal have been the main difficulties. Laid out elegantly and served with panache, Food in the Air and Space shows that for 300 years, airborne catering and eating have been sources of nutrition, technical inventiveness, artistry, differentiation of carriers and social classes, passenger distraction and control ... and humor.
Gordon Pirie, professor, University of Cape Town, African Centre for Cities


Aviation has always pushed innovation. Eating in the air is a fascinating subject and this history has done it justice.
David Crotty, Curator, Qantas Heritage Collection


It’s about time someone wrote a book about the appealing (and appalling) foods and beverages consumed in flight from the balloon era to the space age; Richard Foss’ Food in the Air and Space meets the need, and it’s a delightful read filled with unexpected departures and the occasional crash landing!
Andrew F. Smith, editor, Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover’s Companion to New York City


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